By DAVE HANNEMAN

Staff Writer

HILLIARD — Findlay High’s football team circled and took a knee moments after dropping a heart-breaking 34-28 overtime loss to Hilliard Bradley Friday night.

They didn’t stay that way for long.

“The kids kneeling, waiting for me to come over to say some things, like I always do,” Ritzler said.

“I told them, you don’t have to kneel on this field. Stand up. Be proud.

“That’s a good football team we lost to. But we’re a good team, too.”

Findlay got the ball first in overtime. The Trojans made it to the 2 on a clutch third-down pass from Tanner Rickle to Parker Fetterman. But Bradley sniffed out two quarterback runs, a third down pass was batted down and Mitchell Taylor’s 20-yard field goal attempt was just wide.

Hilliard Bradley got 6 yards on a short run and a short pass. On third-and-4 from the 14, Jaguars quarterback Griffin Veil faked a handoff to Jack Richards and fired a slant pass to Jack Duffer. Duffer caught the pass and slid into the end zone for the winning score.

“We hung, and we fought,” said Hilliard Bradley coach Mike LaParo, who saw a wealth of experience and talent graduate from last year’s 11-1 regional semifinal team.

“I can’t speak for them (Findlay) but I know there were a lot of mistakes on our end. For a lot of our guys, this was their first time under the Friday night lights, so this was a whole new experience for them.”

Findlay got four touchdowns from Rickle and three times took one-touchdown leads. Rickle completed 11 of 23 passes for 130 yards. He also ran for 64 yards with RJ Nunn adding 50 yards on the ground.

Findlay got a huge break when, after two penalties gave Hilliard Bradley a second-and-20 from its 2, the Trojans’ defense forced a fumble — the only turnover either team committed — and junior lineman Ryan Sweat recovered. Rickle skirted left end for the score and Findlay led 28-21 with 5:49 to play.

It wasn’t much time. But it was time enough.

Bradley quarterback Griffin Veil, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, both to speedy end Jack Duffer, drove the Jaguars 68 yards in 16 plays to tie it. Running back Jack Richards, who had tied the game 14-14 on the first drive of the second half, twice converted on fourth down, first on a fourth-and-inches with 2:30 on the clock, and finally from 5 yards out to knot it again, 28-28, with 22.9 seconds on the clock.

Things did not start well for Findlay. But the Trojans made enough head-turning plays to turn things in their favor.

Hilliard Bradley struck gold on the Jaguars’ third snap of the game when Jack Duffer got free on a double-post route and hauled in a 46-yard TD pass from Veil.

The first quarter was halfway gone, and the Jaguars, who hung 55 points on Findlay a year ago, seemed loaded once again.

Findlay’s defense made a stand, though, and the Trojans’ offense made a statement.

A sack by Cross DeLaCruz ended Bradley’s third possession, and Findlay answered with a 60-yard scoring drive. A pass interference call on Bradley’s 2nd-and-eight from the 43 was big. So was a 25-yard pass from Rickle to Isaiah Moore that put the ball on the 3. Rickle followed a block by 350-pound senior guard Jonathan Armstrong for the score with 49 seconds left in the quarter.

Findlay’s defense continued to dictate play in the second quarter. Hilliard Bradley twice failed to convert fourth-down plays, with Khail Stokes coming up with a key stop on third down and Owen Mullins breaking up a pass on fourth on one drive, and Aiden Eubanks getting two big hits and Mullins another to stop the Jaguars once again.

Findlay had one TD — a 30-yard pass from Rickle to Parker Fetterman — negated by an ineligible receiver down field. But the Trojans earned a 14-7 halftime lead with a 53-yard drive set up by Grant Morman’s sack of Veil.

Rickle opened the drive with a 13-yard pass to Adam Gilbert. Nunn powered for two first downs, and Rickle covered the final 11 yards on two quarterback keepers, the second with 1:24 left in the half.

Findlay 7 7 7 7 0– 28

Hilliard Bradley 7 0 14 7 6– 34

First Quarter

HB — Duffer 46 pass from Veil (Banda kick)

FHS — Rickle 1 run (Taylor kick)

Second Quarter

FHS — Rickle 6 run (Taylor kick)

Third Quarter

HB — Richards 1 run (Banda kick)

FHS — Rickle 1 run (Taylor kick)

HB — Duffer 24 pass from Veil (Banda kick)

Fourth Quarter

FHS — Rickle 1 run (Taylor kick)

HB — Richards 3 run (Banda kick)

Overtime

HB — Duffer 16 pass from Veil (Banda kick)

FHS HB

First Downs 13 17

Rushes-yards 37-121 24-67

Passing Yards 130 264

Comp-Att-Int 11-23-0 23-35-0

Punts-Avg. 6-34.0 3-38.0

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 10-73 10-82

individual statistics

rushing — Findlay, Rickle 22-64, Nunn 14-50. Hilliard Bradley, Veil 6-33, Richards 20-52.

passing — Findlay, 11-23-0-130. Hilliard Bradley, Veil 23-35-0-264.

receiving — Findlay, Fetterman 3-54, Dillon 2-23, Gilbert 2-27, Moore 2-29. Hilliard Bradley, Day 6-60, Duffer 6-181.

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