Rain was predicted to be falling from the skies Friday, but instead Piqua’s Austin Davis filled the air with footballs. Davis threw for 284 yards and three scores, but the Indians came up just shy of knocking off perennial power Trotwood.
Piqua – Dark skies hovered over Piqua’s Alexander Stadium on Friday night but the remnants of Hurricane Harvey never materialized. Despite dodging the predicted rain, the Piqua Indians still dealt with a formidable force.
The Trotwood-Madison Rams – who know a little something about reigning themselves with seven straight state semifinal appearances – rolled into Piqua with another imposing offense. The Rams put up their typical numbers. And on this night the Indians nearly matched them.
Piqua quarterback Austin Davis filled the night sky with completion after completion, hitting favorite target Hayden Schrubb often. The Indians, though, could have used one more big play in its bid to beat Trotwood before falling 42-35.
Davis found Schrubb for an acrobatic 33-yard touchdown with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter. That pulled Piqua to 42-35. Needing to get the ball back, Piqua attempted an on-sides kick. The first attempt didn’t go the required 10 yards so the Indians had to kick again after the penalty. The second kick bounced toward the Rams’ sideline. And with several Indians in pursuit the ball worked its way out of bounds just ahead of Piqua’s grasp.
Piqua’s final chance came nearly a minute later. That’s when Rams running back Raveion Hargrove fumbled, only to have the ball bounce right back to him. Hargrove and the Rams then ran out the clock.
“It was a great atmosphere tonight,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “The competition was at the highest level. When you’re down to two minutes left in the game, you’re on-side kicking and almost get it to get your offense back on the field … the level of performance from both teams was exceptional.”
Piqua’s Davis completed 20-of-31 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a pair of touchdowns to Derek Hite of 11 and 44 yards. He also hit Schrubb for that 33-yarder late. Schrubb finished with 10 catches for 140 yards. Cale Meckstroth added six catches for 69 yards.
“That gives us a dimension we haven’t had in a while,” Nees said. “People can’t stack five and six people on the line and dare us to do anything else (but run). We can get the passing game going.”
Trotwood, meanwhile, did most of its damage on the ground. Hargrove logged the eighth 200-yard rushing game of his career (he also has four 300 yard games) with 205 yards on 27 carries. He scored four touchdowns on runs of 6, 14, 55 and 6 yards.
Trotwood quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers completed 9-of-18 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. William McDaniel had five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown and Dallas Daniels had four catches for 36 yards and a TD.
“There was a lot of weapons on both sides,” Nees said. “A defensive coordinator’s nightmare on both sides.”
Piqua led 7-0 midway through the first quarter on Hite’s first touchdown catch. Trotwood answered two minutes later on a Stephens-Peppers pass to McDaniel.
After another Trotwood touchdown, Piqua pulled even with 1:48 left in the first half on Devon Brown’s four-yard run. The momentum swing was short lived as the Rams quickly moved down field for a five-play scoring drive with 48 seconds left before halftime. The 22-14 deficit proved valuable for the Rams.
“We had the ball coming out in the second half and that’s when we needed to strike,” Nees said of answering Trotwood’s touchdown. “We weren’t able to do that. Otherwise our offense was outstanding tonight.”
In the second half Trotwood led by scores of 28-14, 34-21 and 42-28. And Piqua responded each time. The Indians pulled within a touchdown three times in the third and fourth quarters.
This one goes down in the loss column for Piqua, but the Indians carried some confidence into their locker room after giving the Rams a scare. Since 2010, five different teams from Ohio have handed Trotwood a loss during the regular season – Centerville, Wayne, Springfield, Troy and Piqua.
“Piqua is always going to be a great program because Nees does a great job,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said.
“These are the types of games you want early so we can be well prepared for later on. We’re young in the (defensive backfield). We’ve got some guys that were saying these guys from Piqua can really catch the ball. … I love being confident coming in. But they have to understand coming into Piqua – or anywhere in the GWOC – we have to execute. They created some things to challenge our defense.”
Piqua finished with 354 yards (Trotwood had 368) but managed 70 on the ground. Ben Schmiesing led the Indians with 56 yards on 16 attempts.
“When we win and lose it’s a learning experience,” Nees said of the post-game message to his team. “You want to make sure you’re making corrections but you also want to make sure you’re staying positive.”