LIMA — For the second straight year, McComb has broken the heart of Crestview in the playoffs after the Panthers outlasted the Knights 35-28 in double overtime in the Division VII Region 26 final Saturday night.
Crestview ends its magical postseason run and season with a 9-4 record. McComb advances to play Minster who defeated Midwest Athletic Conference rivals Fort Recovery.
Crestview head coach Jared Owens said their losses were all close this year but this one stung the most.
“Everyone of our losses was gut-wrenching but this was compounded with the fact that there is no tomorrow for our seniors,” Owens said. “I am really humbled to have the opportunity to be around such a great group of men but size wise and talent wise we were outmatched a little but our guys laid it on the line out there.”
After the first overtime that saw both teams move backwards and gain negative yardage, McComb took the ball first in the second overtime.
The McComb offense, which had its trouble all night dealing with the Crestview defense, found its footing in the second overtime when the Panthers punched it in on four plays when standout signal caller Malachi Abbott ran it in from 6 yards out to give the Panthers the 35-28 advantage with the Knights looking to respond,
The Knights appeared up for the challenge when on the first two games moved it to the 10 on the first two plays, but on the third play Knight quarterback Drew Kline dropped back to pass. The Knight quarterback began to scramble and then as he was being pressured tossed the ball to the end zone and was intercepted to end the game.
This was a game of momentum shifts and mistakes for both teams.
“Well I thought the momentum went back and fourth and I thought we kind of controlled the second half,” Owens said. “But we missed a couple of tackles and gave up a score to tie it up and then kind of felt we need to break a play there and the end of the fourth quarter and put ourselves to strike but we never got there and I made the decision to go to overtime and in overtime defensively we played our butts off.”
For the first half, Crestview took advantage of three turnovers to keep the potent McComb offense in check as well as clamping down on Abbott. In the first half Abbot was limited to 87 yards passing and 2 yards rushing.
The Knights had a 52 yard interception return for a touchdown by Trevor Gibson to give the Knights a 14-7 lead
However, the Panthers utilized the legs of Caden Schroeder, who had 157 yards in the first half and would finish with 175 yards for the game, bailed the Panthers out numerous times when it appeared the Knights’ defense had stopped the Panthers potent offensive attack.
The Knights had their own problems as key penalties and lost scoring opportunities in the second half prevented them from taking control of the game.
Throughout the game, the Panthers also did a great job of stopping Kline by limiting the Knight quarterback to just 76 yards on 16 carries and 8 of 23 for 138 yards through the air. In the second half Kline was held to minus 1 yard.
However, Kline can beat you with more than just his legs and had several passing moments that keep Crestview moving in the second half including the drive that gave the Crestview the 28-21 lead with 11:34 left in the fourth quarter.
In that touchdown march where the Knights went 70 yards in six plays, Kline made a spectacular pass to Wade Sheets for 49 yards on a third and 14 where the receiver came back and stepped in front of the receiver to snag the ball for the big play. Two plays later, Luke Gerardot ran it in from 25 yards out to complete the drive. For the game, Gerardot finished the game with 114 yards on 15 carries with 97 of those yards coming in the second half.
After one successful stop by the Knights defense on the the Panthers next possession that saw Crestview end the McComb drive at 13 with 5:49 in the game. However, the Knights were forced to punt the ball after failing to move the ball on their possession.
On the ensuing punt, Panther return Taylor Schroeder fielded the ball at his own 43 and scampered down to the Knights’ five yard line to set up the tying score.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1