By Rob Kiser
After a struggle against Celina a week ago and a slow start against Springboro Friday night, the Piqua football team seemed to put things together in the final two-plus quarter in the final tuneup for Friday’s opener.
After Springboro took a 20-0 lead with 4:25 remaining in the opening quarter, Piqua blanked the Panthers 14-0 the rest of the way in the three quarter game, losing 20-14 at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
“It just took us a little while to get going,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “Like Celina, Springboro is another good test. They are an outstanding team. I think we held them scoreless their last six possessions. We did a lot of good things.”
On Springboro’s first three possessions, the Panthers rushed for 174 yards on 12 carries, including a 91-yard run that made it 20-0. The rest of the way, the Panthers were limited to 134 yards on 20 carries, while completing nine of 14 passes for 85 yards.
Piqua countered with 196 yards rushing on 26 carries, while Mick Karn completed six of 12 passes for 87 yards with one interception.
“I thought we stepped up as the scrimmage went on,” Nees said. “Out blocking got better and we made some adjustements with our defensive assignments.”
After two three-and-outs, Piqua started to put things together on its third possession.
Karn hooked up with Owen Toopes on a 37-yard pass and ran for a couple first downs, before the drive ended inside the Springboro 25 with an interception.
Jerrell Lewis and Karn then sparked the Indians on a 52-yard drive. On consecutive plays, Lewis ran for eight yards and caught a 15-yard pass from Karn.
On first and 21 from the Springboro 30, Karn first ran for 10 yards, then broke three or four tackles before extending the ball over the goal line on a 20-yard run. Karn added the PAT to make it 20-7.
It stayed that way until midway through the third quarter, when Piqua exploded on three-play, 72-yard drive.
On second and seven from the Piqua 31, Karn ran 24 yards to the Springboro 45.
On the next play, Makeegen Kuhn bounced off a would-be tackle and went 45 yards to the end zone and Karn’s kick got Piqua within 20-14.
Piqua got the ball back with 4:05 to o on its own 20.
Three runs by Karn had Piqua in a second-and-one on the Piqua 40.
But, an unsportsmanlike penalty moved put Piqua in a second-and-16 and they had to punt.
Karn also averaged 44.25 yards on four punts
“I thought the best thing tonight was we had live special teams and our special teams were outstanding,” Nees said.
“This is (great preparation) for next Friday.”
When Piqua opens the season at Chaminade-Julienne.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.