BELLEFONTAINE — All season long, Ottawa-Glandorf’s football team found ways to rise to the occasion.
Heading into Friday’s Division IV Region 14 championship game against defending state champion Bishop Hartley, the Titans knew they would have to really dig deep to overcome the powerful running attack of the Hawks.
On Friday, O-G took Bishop Hartley to the wire, before succumbing to the Hawks, 38-35 at AcuSport Stadium.
With the loss, O-G ends the season 11-2. Bishop Hartley (11-2) advances to the state semifinals next Friday against Kettering Alter at a site to be determined.
Last season, O-G lost to Bishop Hartley in the regional semifinals. Hartley went on to win the state title.
On Friday, O-G nearly had an opportunity to get the football back in the waning moments of the game.
With 28 seconds left to play, O-G running back Daniel Beemer found the end zone from 1 yard out. With the point after by Tristen Ball, the Bishop Hartley lead was just three points.
On the ensuing kick-off by O-G, it appeared that O-G recovered the ball. However, the officials ruled that an O-G player touched the ball before Hartley had a chance to field it. Despite recovering the onside kick, O-G found itself playing defense the final 28 seconds of the game.
“I think our guys gave them everything we had,” longtime O-G coach Ken Schriner said. “We laid it all on the field. We played as best as we could against a team that’s outstanding. We just came up a little bit short. What a disappointment.
“But our kids need to be proud of what they accomplished this year. Our seniors, I’m so proud of them. I’m happy for the effort they gave. To come down to the wire like this and not get it done, just makes it a heartbreaker.”
Bishop Hartley’s offense isn’t a secret. The Hawks want to come out and run the football.
And they did.
For the game, Hartley rushed for 372 yards. Marquette Dixon accounted for 237 of those yards, with four TDs.
O-G’s coaching staff knew that trying to slow down the lethal rushing attack of Bishop Hartley was not going to be an easy task.
“We knew we had to take some chances,” Schriner said. “We knew we had to load up as much as we could. They continually found a seam here and there. And that’s the difference. When they can make first downs and grind the clock, that’s pretty impressive.”
Bishop Hartley wasted little time in taking the lead.
On their very first possession of the game, the Hawks marched 60 yards in eight plays to get on the scoreboard. Dixon capped off the drive with a 5-yard run.
However, O-G responded.
Beemer capped off a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard run. With the PAT by Ball, the game was knotted at 7 apiece.
The Titans then took the lead, early into the second quarter, on a 1-yard run by quarterback Jay Kaufman. With the PAT, O-G led 14-7.
That would be the last time O-G would lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Dixon scored on an 11-yard run, knotting the game at 14 apiece.
Then right before halftime, Cam’Ron Culver ran it in from 13 yards out. The Hawks went into the break with a 21-14 lead.
In the second half, Bishop Hartley extended its lead to 28-14 with 1:08 left to play in the third quarter, on Dixon’s third TD of the night.
But O-G did not fold.
Just seconds into the fourth quarter, Kaufman found Trent Basinger open for a 14-yard TD pass. With the PAT from Ball, the Hartley lead was 28-21.
Minutes later, Hartley place-kicker Mateo Agriesti booted a 42-yard field goal, giving the Hawks a 31-21 lead.
A 1-yard scamper by Kaufman at the 3:05 mark, cut the deficit to 31-28.
Bishop Hartley again responded.
With less than three minutes left to play, Dixon found a seam in the O-G secondary and broke loose for a 57-yard run to the end zone, giving his team a 38-28 advantage.
Beemer then added the 1-yard run to round out the scoring.
“It was a battle all night,” Schriner said. “We moved the ball pretty effectively on offense. Defensively, we got a couple stops. We just needed a couple more. To still be that close at the end; it was unbelievable. But overall, the effort was just phenomenal.
“Our kids are undersized. We’re slower. And to go out and battle like that, I’m really proud of our guys on how they played.”
For the game, O-G rushed for 258 yards. Kaufman was 23-of-32 passing for 128 yards. Kaufman’s favorite receiver was Connor Niese, who had seven catches for 95 yards.
“They had a great plan,” Bishop Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “They got a couple key stops. I think them holding us to that field goal in the fourth quarter, really changed the momentum of the game.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.