By Chris Tilton
WEST MILTON – It was the Preble Shawnee Arrows that upset host Milton Union in the opening game of the Ohio State Playoffs. It was a game that was the epitome of playoff football in Ohio – several lead changes, fervent fans, and a game that was not decided until late in the 4th quarter. Emotions ran high on both teams in a tumultous battle that would eventually be won by Shawnee 28-17.
It was the run first Bulldog offense against the passing attack of the Arrows. Milton Union did pass the ball effectively and Shawnee was able to peel off some decent runs but that is what the game came down too. And of course the defenses – both teams made good plays, but in the 2nd half it was the Shawnee defense that shined the brightest on 2 critical 4th down plays where the Arrows held firm and stopped the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs struck first with a Braden Schaurer field goal early in the 2nd quarter. Both teams had exchanged possessions in the 1st quarter, but it was the Buldogs who drove the ball into the redzone and scored first. A nice return on the kickoff by Reece Smith gave the Arrows a short field. A few quick plays later and Shawnee jumped into the lead thanks to a 2 yard TD.
Milton Union had a holding penalty on their next possession and had to punt. Blankenship was a factor in Shawnee’s next score only this time it was Blankenship throwing the pass hauled in by QB Brody Morton to put Shawnee on the 20 yard line of Milton Union. A few plays later and Morton did a quarter back sneak to put Shawnee up 14-3.
Shawnee’s Dave Maddox, “Reece Smith made some really good plays for us on specials teams. He set us up to go down and score. Isaac Blankship played very well with the ball and we put him at quarterback some and that pass to Brody Morton in the endzone – that was a big play. Those guys stepped up when we needed them to and I am just proud of the entire team for the way we played. ”
Milton Union had less than a minute before the half ended but that was all the time needed to get the ball into the redzone of Shawnee. Payton Mayfield caught a Wyatt Kimmel pass that put the ball on the 17 yard line of Shawnee. With seconds left Milton Union opted to try for a field goal, but this attempt was missed.
A re-energized Milton Union team came out of the locker room and gashed through the Shawnee defense. Jordon Foose barrelled into the endzone on a 26 yard run for the Bulldogs 1st touchdown of the night. Late in the 3rd quarter with the Bulldogs again marching the ball down the field there were personal fouls on both teams on successive downs. It was an intense, heated time in the game and after the 2nd foul, it was close to being a fight on the field. The coaches got the teams settled down and the Bulldogs went back to work.
Foose again scored for the Bulldogs on a 10 yard run. This gave the Bulldogs their 2nd lead of the game 17-14 as the 2 teams entered the last stanza. The Shawnee passing game was spot on – the later in the game that it was, the better they seemed to perform. Kaden Taylor caught a pass on the Milton Union 27 to set up Shawnee’s next score – a Morton to Smith 15 yard TD catch. This put Shawnee back in the lead with 9 minutes left. Plenty of time for Milton Union to score.
Milton Union took the kickoff and moved the ball to midfield where the Arrow defense seemed to catch another gear. They held the Bulldogs there and on 4th and 4 they held – stopping the Bulldogs about a yard short.
Shawnee’s Dave Maddox, “We did some blitzes on some gaps where we thought they were going to be. And there were times when we just let our guys make plays and that was one where the guys stood up big and stopped them. That was the turning point where we able to put a big finish on them.”
On Milton Unions possession they again began to move the ball. But time was becoming a factor. There was about 3 and half minutes left in the game. So Shawnee turned up the heat. The Bulldog quarter bobbled the snap and that was all the time needed for Garrett Campbell to swoop in and sack the quarterback for a huge loss. And a few plays later it was 4th and 17 for the Bulldogs. They failed to convert and Shawnee got the ball on the Bulldog 27.
Shawnee got an insurance touchdown when Lane Lovely raced 19 yards for the score. But the Bulldogs still had fight in them. They were able to get the ball into Shawnee territory with a little over a minute left. But Shawnee’s defense was again able to make a play on 4th down. It was 4th and 23 and Kimmel let the ball fly. Mayfield made an amazing catch and fell forward – but was a yard short of the line to gain.
It was time for Shawnee to form the victory formation and seal a hard earned win. Shawnee will next face Brookville.
“Thats a great game, both teams played very hard. I thought both teams played very well. This was one of the few games this season where we played 4 good quarters of football. And defense stepped up and got some really good stops. The offenses was able to click and our athletes made good plays. We knew it would be a close game coming in, and we were fortunate to come out on top. It was a great, great game and that is a good team that is well coached.”