By Rob Kiser
CLAYTON — Piqua met the enemy on the gridiron at Northmont High School Friday night.
And they were wearing blue helmets and white jerseys with red numbers.
While, the scoreboard will say Northmont won the game 21-13, most of the damage to the Indians was self inflicted.
Special teams breakdowns, turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes — Piqua did all four.
Through all of that, the one positive was the effort and heart the Piqua players showed.
The Indians simply need to put that game behind them and take the same execution they showed against Lima Senior on the field for the next six weeks after dropping to 2-2.
Piqua moved the ball on its first two possessions — and the defense limited Northmont to 45 yards in the first half.
But, the Indians had nothing to show for it.
The first drive Piqua turned it over on downs and the second, the Indians fumbled deep in Northmont territory.
After the Indians dodged one bullet when Northmont’s Nick Boyd return a punt for a touchdown, only to have it called back on a block in the back, disaster struck on Piqua’s next punt.
After Jabari Perkins initially muffed the punt, he picked it up on his own 19 and went 81 yards to the end zone. Nick Winchester’s kick put Northmont up 7-0.
Following an Andrew Lee interception, Piqua tied the game just before half, behind the hard running of Darien Tipps-Clemons.
He had runs of 19 and 17 yards to set up his 3-yard TD run and Noah Lyman’s kick made it 7-7 at the half.
Northmont went right down the field to start the second half, with quarterback Brenden Reck throwing 33 yards to Boyd for the score, with Winchester’s kick making it 14-7.
Piqua was able to answer again.
Hunter Hawk made his second spectacular catch of the night for 46 yards and on third-and-five from the 10, quarterback Rupert Delacruz ran 10 yards for the score. The PAT failed, leaving Piqua behind 14-13.
On Northmont’s next drive, Piqua let the T-Bolts out of a fourth-and-27 situation with a roughing the kicker penalty.
On Northmont’s next punt, Josh Potter blocked it to give Piqua the ball on the Northmont 17.
But, consecutive false start penalties turned a fourth-and-four into a fourth-and-14 and Piqua turned the ball over on downs.
Early in the fourth quarter, a roughing the passer penalty extended a Northmont drive and on the next play Reck and Boyd hooked up for a 41-yard TD pass with Winchester kick making it 21-13.
Then, Piqua had a drive stopped on an offensive interference penalty and had to punt from deep in its own territory.
After all that, the Indians had one last chance.
A 23-yard run into Northmont territory ended with a fumble and Northmont taking over.
On Piqua’s last possession, the Indians had a second and one from their own 34 with more than two minutes remaining.
But, a false start and sack made it third-and-19 and after two incompletions, Northmont ran the clock out.
Delacruz finished 12 of 18 for 194 yards, while Hawk had three receptions for 78 yards and Jacob Bushnell had a 46-yard reception on Piqua’s first offensive play of the game.
Clemons had 19 carries for 65 yards to lead the Piqua rushing attack.
Unofficially, the Indians were whistled for 127 yards in penalties.
Devin Kenerly led the Northmont rushing attack with 31 yards, while Reck completed 10 of 116 passes for 1114 yards and two TDs.
Boyd caught three passes for 84 yards, all in the second half.
Piqua will look to rebound against Fairborn Friday at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.