By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay High’s football team has been working overtime this season.
So far, the Trojans have yet to see the payoff.
Findlay drove for a clutch touchdown and got the game-tying 2-point conversion with 14 seconds left in regulation Friday. But Upper Arlington scored first in overtime, then snuffed out Findlay’s hopes with a swarming defense in coming away with a 49-42 victory on Senior Night at Donnell Stadium.
Findlay dropped to 0-2 with its second overtime loss of the season. Upper Arlington notched its first win.
“It was almost a mirror image of last week,” Findlay coach Mark Ritzler said of last week’s 34-28 overtime loss at Hilliard Bradley.
“Our kids don’t quit. We played hard, we played our tails off, we played all the way to the end.
“We don’t play any weak teams. So, no, I don’t consider this a moral victory and they (the players) don’t either. They’re ticked. They’re upset. You saw how they were at the end of regulation. We had the momentum and everything, but you have to credit (Upper Arlington). They chugged one in on us in overtime and held on.”
In a game featuring some wild swings in momentum and some mind-boggling plays, Findlay rallied for 21 points in the fourth quarter to tie it.
Upper Arlington had the game apparently in the bank when Golden Bears quarterback Sammy Sass drove his team 70 yards in the final 7 minutes of regulation. Junior running Eli D’Herete, a central figure in a bizarre sequence of events on Upper Arlington’s first touchdown of the game, covered the final 17 yards of the drive on three carries, scoring from a yard out with 1:20 on the clock.
D’Herete’s touchdown put Upper Arlington up 42-34. An extra-point conversion by Hayden Raish, who was 4-for-4 already, would have given the Bears 9-point lead.
On PAT conversions, though, Upper Arlington first lines up in a trick formation, with most of the linemen over near the left sideline, leaving the long-snapper, two linemen, the holder and Raish in front of the goal posts. Every previous time the Bears scored, the linemen off to the left would return to the center, the ball would be snapped and Raish would boot the ball through.
On UA’s late fourth-quarter TD, however, the line stayed to the left, the ball was snapped and Findlay’s defense, poured through to block the kick.
Instead of being up by 9, Upper Arlington led by just 8.
“Yeah, there was little bit (of miscommunication) there,” said Upper Arlington coach Joel Cutler.
“We were able to battle back and overcome that, though. We’ve got a great group of kids, and I love our senior leadership. I think that came through tonight.”
Findlay, which gave up a late game-tying touchdown drive to Hilliard Bradley last week, staged a dramatic drive of its in the final 80 seconds of regulation.
Senior quarterback Tanner Rickle, who would complete 30 of 38 passes for 415 yards and five TDs, hit on four straight passes to start the drive, including 20- and 28-yard strikes to senior end Adam Gilbert that gave Findlay a first-and-goal at the 2.
RJ Nunn was stopped for no gain with 21 seconds left and Ritzler called his final time out.
When play resumed, Rickle went right back to Gilbert on two quick-cut plays, one for the touchdown and one for the 2-point conversion that tied it with 14 seconds on the clock.
“They goofed up there with that extra point and gave us a prayer,” Ritzler said. “We were fortunate enough to drive down and put the ball in the end zone. That was awesome, but we have to find a way to ride that momentum.”
Sass, who had scored earlier in the game on 71- and 9-yard bursts, had the big gainer on Upper Arlington’s overtime drive, an 8-yard run on a quarterback keeper. From there the Bears pounded away behind a big, physical offensive line, with 220-pound junior back Chris Schweisthal, who had 21 of Upper Arlington’s 50 carries and 134 of the Bears’ 301 rushing yards, covering the final 2 yards.
On Findlay’s overtime possession, Rickle hit Isaiah Moore with a key 9-yard pass to the 11-yard line. But on fourth-and-1, a blitzing Upper Arlington defensive poured through and dropped Nunn for a loss.
Gilbert had a huge night for Findlay, catching 12 passes for 161 yards and two scores. Moore also had a big night for the Trojans. The junior speedster did lose a fumble on one kickoff return, but he had 103 yards on three other returns, nearly breaking two of them for scores. He also caught seven passes for 112 yards, including a twisting, turning, breakaway run for a 38-yard TD catch,
Nunn had two short scoring runs for Findlay, and Pat Dillon hauled in a 7-yard TD pass from Rickle.
D’Herete scored three touchdowns for Upper Arlington. Two came on 2-yard dives, the other on a 26-yard screen pass on the Golden Bears first possession of the game. After that TD, Upper Arlington went into its power-I formation and D’Herete ran into the end zone. The Golden Bears then sent their PAT unit onto the field, not realizing that D’Herete’s run was for a 2-point conversion, not a touchdown.
“The guy on my sideline didn’t signal touchdown,” Cutler said of D’Herete’s long run on the screen pass. “But I guess it all worked out.”
The odd sequence put Upper Arlington up 8-0, and had Findlay facing a slight deficit even after every TD the rest of the night, at least until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Findlay won’t return to Donnell Stadium until a September 28 game with Oregon Clay. The Trojans are at Toledo Start next week, at Fremont Ross on Sept. 14 and will face Toledo St. Francis at the University of Toledo Glass Bowl on Sept. 21.
Upper Arlington 8 21 7 6 7– 49
Findlay 0 21 0 21 0–42
UA — D’Herete 26 pass from Sass (D’Herete run)
FIN — Dillon 7 pass from Rickle (Taylor kick)
UA — Sass 71 run (Raish kick)
UA — Sass 9 run (Raish kick)
FIN — Nunn 3 run (Taylor kick)
UA — D’Herete 2 run (Raish kick)
FIN — Nunn 1 run (Taylor kick)
UA — Schweisthal 48 run (Raish kick)
FIN — Gilbert 13 pass from Rickle (Taylor kick)
FIN — Moore 38 pass from Rickle (Taylor kick)
UA — D’Herete 2 run (kick blocked)
FIN — Gilbert 2 pass from Rickle (Gilbert pass frpm Rickle)
UA — Schweisthal 2 run (Raish kick)
First Downs 24 20
Rushes-yards 24-94 50-301
Passing Yards 415 116
Comp-Att-Int 30-38-1 10-15-0
Punts-Avg. 1-23.0 3-36.30
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 6-64 8-37
rushing — Upper Arlington, Schweisthal 21-135, Sass 10-116, D’Herete 17-49. Findlay, Rickle 10-48Nunn 13-27DeLaCruz 3-19.
passing — Upper Arlington, Sass 9-14-0, 109 yards; Leve 1-1-07 yards. Findlay, Rickle 30-38-1, 415 yards.
receiving — Upper Arlington, Fisanick 1-23, Bair 4-48, D’Herete 4-34, Keethler 1-11. Findlay, Fetterman 2-14, Moore 7-112, Gilbert 12-161, Nunn 3-29, Hamilton 1-34, Dillon 4-55.