Piqua’s first road trip of the season started poorly, got worse, then completely blew up in the Indians’ faces as Trotwood ran off with a week two win.
Trotwood – Heading into Friday night’s game with the Rams at the Good Samaritan Sportsplex, many had the same question about the Piqua Indians.
Just how good are they?
The Indians looked stellar in their opening scrimmage against Lima Senior, not so hot against Springboro in their final scrimmage, and beat up on an out-manned Meadowdale in the season opener last week.
Many thought a week two confrontation with the 6 time regional champions would give a better gauge of the Indians, despite Trotwood’s 10-6 loss to Troy last week.
But many Indian fans had to have left the stadium shaking their heads with the single thought: We have to be better than THAT.
Raveion Hargrove ran for three second half touchdowns after being bottled up in the first half, and the Rams completely dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in rolling to a shockingly easy 38-6 win, leaving both teams with 1-1 records.
How bad was it?
Trotwood out-gained the Indians 362-91. Piqua ran the ball 29 times for 27 yards, an average of 0.9 yards per attempt. Quarterback Austin Davis threw for 64 yards, but 54 of those came on a touchdown pass to Ben Schmiesing for the Indians only score of the game. Aside of that, Davis was 5 of 13 for all of ten yards.
It was so one-sided that it didn’t even matter that the Rams kept shooting themselves in the foot. Referee Frank Vitt’s crew penalized the Rams 12 times for 110 yards.
To make matters worse, the Indians lost two key players to injury. Derek Hite left in the first quarter and didn’t return, and running back-linebacker Darien-Tipps Clemons injured his right knee midway through the second quarter and spent the rest of the night on crutches.
“We kinda ran out of bodies there right after the game started,” Piqua coach Bill Nees explained. “It’s hard to replace two guys of that caliber. I thought we battled pretty hard, but after a while, you know, we wore down.
“We are like most high school teams, we don’t have a lot of depth, especially guys of that caliber. We are going to have to re-group and hopefully those guys will be all right.”
Things started badly for the Indians right from the coin flip. Facing fourth and nine from their own 47 on the game’s first possession, Tipps-Clemons tried to run for the first down. The fake fooled no one wearing a red jersey and Clemons was stopped at the line of scrimmage.
“It did put us in a hole,” Nees agreed. “It would have been a big play for us. That was one of those shots we wanted to take in that situation.”
That set the Rams up for a nine play, 47-yard drive for a lead they would never relinquish. Ram quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers, who threw for 127 yards and ran for 69 more, scored from the one and then ran for a two-point conversion.
Piqua responded immediately. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Davis threw a beautiful pass to junior Ben Schmiesing, who made an over-the-shoulder catch and scored to complete a 54- yard play. The Indians failed on the two-point attempt, and that was the end of the Piqua highlights for the Indians.
The 6-2, 197 pound Schmiesing took over in the backfield when Tipps-Clemons went down, and was the Indians most productive runner, gaining 24 yards on 5 carries.
“Ben’s a great player,” praised Nees. “He’s able to play wide receiver, then came in at running back when we needed him. He is on all of our special teams and we can’t say enough about everything he does for us.”
After that score, the Indians went three and out on four straight possessions. After the third non-drive, the punt snap sailed over Tipps-Clemons head. He recovered the ball and stepped out of the end zone for a safety.
The Indians defense bent but didn’t break most of the first half. They kept the Rams off the board after Trotwood took over at the Piqua 18 following a good punt return, but gave up a 58-yard, nine-play drive in the final 90 seconds of the half. Anthony Parker scored on a two yard run as time expired and the Rams led 16-6 at the break.
The Rams turned the game into a rout in the second half, out-scoring the Indians 22-0. Piqua did not have a first down in the second half.
Trotwood enjoyed stellar field position all night. On their first eight possessions, the Rams started at the Piqua 47, the Piqua 49, the Piqua 43, the Piqua 18 and their own 42, 49 and 45. You get the idea.
“Our defense had it’s back to the wall all night,” Nees acknowledged. “We couldn’t establish any kind of running game and they were pretty quick on the perimeter. That’s a good defense and we didn’t have an answer to a lot of things they were doing.”
The Indians held Hargrove, who ran for more than 3,000 yards last season, to 25 yards on 7 carries in last year’s 28-7 Piqua win, which snapped the Indians 7 game losing streak in the series.. He was a non-factor in the first half of this one, rushing for 18 yards on nine carries. The second half was a different story as the 5-6 junior carried 8 times for 100 yards and touchdown runs of 6, 33 and 7 yards.
One game, even one as bad as this one, does not make or break a season, and that’s the message Nees will deliver to his team as they begin to prepare for a trip to Franklin next Friday.
“We have to regroup. One of the things we talk about is dealing with adversity. We have to be able to handle it,” said Nees. “Trotwood dealt with some adversity last week and hopefully we will be able to come back and do the same thing.”