By Rob Kiser
The Piqua football team climbed out of an early hole against Vandalia-Butler Friday night to tie the game 21-21 at halftime.
But, the Butler defense rose to the occasion in the second half and a 1-yard drive set up by special teams was the only points of the second half as Vandalia-Butler recorded its fourth straight victory over Piqua 28-21 — with three of those four games decided by one score.
Vandalia opened the second half with an 83-yard kickoff return to the Piqua two and horse collar penalty moved it to the one.
Two plays later, Nic Martin scored and Andrew Boren’s kick made it 28-21 with 11:20 remaining in the third quarter.
Little did anyone know those would be the final points of the game.
While the Piqua defense made one stand after another, the Indians could only manage two first downs the entire second half.
Alex Nees had Piqua’s third interception of the game in the third quarter, but like the two in the first half, Piqua came away with no points.
After Vandalia converted a fake punt on a run by Vinnie Fiori on fourth-and-tw0, the Piqua defense held again and forced a Butler punt.
Piqua got the ball on its own 31 with 3:00 to go and two completions to Colton Bachman gave the Indians their second first down of the half.
But, Rupert Delacruz was sacked on three consecutive plays and a pass on fourth-and-34 fell incomplete.
All, Butler had to do was take a knee twice to finish off the win.
Vandalia-Butler started the game with the wind at its back and took full advantage.
Chandler Craine completed all seven of his passes in the opening quarter for a 151 yards as the Aviators took a 21-7 lead.
The Aviators started the scoring with a 64-yard pass from Craine to Treylann Sanders and Boren’s kick made it 7-0.
Vandalia’s next possession was a 61-yard drive on four straight completions. The final one was eight yards to Aaron Fields and Boren’s kick made it 14-0.
Darien Tipps-Clemons got Piqua on the board with an 80-yard run and Noah Lyman’s kick made it 14-7.
But, Vandalia came right back with a 70-yard run by Logan Fiatt and Boren’s kick made it 21-7 late in the first quarter.
When, the team’s switched ends, so did the momentum.
A 46-yard pass to Lyman led to a 4-yard TD run by Tipps-Clemons and Lyman’s kick made it 21-14.
Then a 45-yard drive was highlighted by Tipps-Clemons hurdling two Butler defenders to get to the one-yard line — even though he appeared to score on the play — on second-and-goal.
On fourth-and-goal from the four, Lyman made the catch in the end zone despite taking a helmet-to-helmet hit and he added the kick to tie it at 21.
Then, Ben Schmiesing and Dylan Cole intercepted passes in Butler territory, but Piqua came away with no points.
The half ended with Piqua faking a field goal from the eight-yard line and Schmiesing being tackled short of the goal line.
That left the game tied at 21 and led to Butler’s big play on special teams to win the game.
While Vandalia improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the GWOC North, Piqua dropped to 3-3 and 0-1.
The Indians now have back-to-back road games at Greenville and Trotwood-Madison.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.