Warren overcomes 16-point deficit to move on
VINCENT — After tasting victory in the postseason for the first time in school history last week, the Warren Warriors simply were not going to be denied playoff victory number two no matter what obstacles they had to overcome.
The Warriors rallied to overcome a 16-point half time deficit and went on the down the John Glenn Muskies 35-28 in a double overtime thriller Saturday night in Vincent to advance to round number three of the Division IV, Region 15 playoff tournament.
Warrior senior quarterback Kurt Taylor rushed for three second-half touchdowns and the Warren defense came up with a huge stop on the final Muskie possession as they pulled out a win in a game that looked like it had slipped out of their hands just before the intermission.
“I thought we were really resilient tonight and at halftime it would have been real easy for us to kind of point fingers and not come out and compete but that’s not this group,” said second-year Warren head coach Matt Kimes.
“We told them at halftime it’s not really anything they’ve done it’s what we had done to ourselves.”
John Glenn got off to a great start when junior running back Noah Wellmeier rambled 82-yards for a touchdown on the second Muskie play from scrimmage for an early 7-0 lead.
Joel Chevalier’s 40-yard field goal got Warren on the board but John Glenn answered when quarterback Noah Winland connected with Colt Emerson on a 28-yard scoring toss to push the lead to 14-3.
The Warriors got a huge play from Jason Williams on special teams when the freshman blocked a John Glenn punt attempt at the 24-yard line which rolled all the way back to the end zone where it went out of bounds for a safety.
The Warren offense was trying to get back on the board in the closing seconds of the first half when Taylor’s pass deep down the sidelines was intercepted by Blade Barclay at the Muskie 17-yard line.
Barclay raced back up the sidelines and in an outstanding individual effort broke free from several Warren tacklers and somehow managed to make it all the way to the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown as time expired to give John Glenn a 21-5 lead at halftime.
“We told them at halftime that if our defense steps up and they (JG) don’t score in the second half we were going to win this football game,” said Kimes. “We knew we could get 16 points because we have done that all year and we were very capable of striking at any time.”
Warren took their head coaches words to heart and got right to work to open the second half when they put together a 73-yard, 13-play drive that culminated in Taylor’s 3-yard touchdown run.
The Warriors decided to go for the two-point conversion to try and cut the lead to eight but they were unsuccessful leaving the Muskies with a 21-11 lead.
After the Warren defense stopped the Muskies on their first possession of the second half they saw their own drive stall at the 45-yard line but Chevalier booted a 54-yard punt that was downed by Peyten Kellar at the John Glenn 1-yard line.
The Muskies were unable to get a first down and once again punted the ball back to the home team who took over possession in great shape at the John Glenn 29-yard line.
Five plays later, Taylor plunged into the end zone from the one-yard line for his second touchdown of the half and Chevalier drilled the point after to cut the lead to just three with the final quarter to play.
The Big Blue defense stopped John Glenn for the third consecutive time forcing them to punt the ball back to Warren.
The Warriors were unable to pick up a first down of their own but Chevalier gave them a huge advantage in field position when he punted a school record 65-yard punt that moved the ball all the way back to the JG 14-yard line.
The Musklies managed to pick up their initial first down of the second half to move the ball out to the 40 but eventually came up short on a 4th and one at their own 40 when the Warriors forced the ball loose and Kellar recovered to give them the ball in great field position with chance to win the game in regulation.
Warren managed to move the ball down to the 10-yard line where their drive stalled with less than two minutes to play allowing Chevalier the opportunity to tie the game with a 27-yard field goal.
As he did all night long, Chevalier was nothing but clutch as he kicked the ball right through the center of the goal posts to tie the game at 21-21.
“We spend a lot of times on special teams and we definitely felt like we won the special teams tonight,” said Kimes. “We got points out of our special teams and our field position was really good all night…. that’s the third phase of the game and if you don’t win that phase you are going to have a hard time winning football games.”
John Glenn managed to move the ball all the way down to the Warrior 23-yard line before they ran out of time forcing the game into overtime.
The Muskies got the first chance in overtime and they quickly converted on a 2-yard run by Barclay only to have the Warriors answer when Taylor scored on a 9-yard run.
Both Chevalier and JG place kicker Mateo Smith converted the PAT’s sending the game into a second overtime.
Warren got the ball first in the second OT and it took them just four plays to score once again when senior running back Brayden Gerber bulled his way into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown run.
Chevalier’s kick was good forcing the Muskies to score a touchdown and kick the extra point to tie the game.
The Muskies quickly moved the ball inside the 5-yard line but the Warrior defense stopped them four straight times inside the 5-yard line including the final tackle of Barclay by a swarm of Warren tacklers inside the 3-yard line to seal the deal.
“We’ve come a long way. When these seniors were freshman they didn’t win a game and then as sophomores they won two and last year we started seeing some things that they were capable of when they won six,” said Kimes, specifically of his 15 seniors. “We knew going into this year that we had a chance to be really special and I’m just glad that their hard work and commitment to something bigger than themselves has paid off.”
Taylor had a somewhat quiet night passing as he completed 19-of-31 pass attempts for 162-yards but more than made up for it rushing the ball as he totaled 33 yards on 15 carries including the three touchdowns.
Gerber led the way with 83 yards on 20 carries while Evan Gandee caught eight passes for 57 yards.
John Glenn was led by Wellmeier with 172 yards on 28 carries while Winland completed 10-of-18 passes for 120 yards.
With the win the Warriors will advance to St. Clairsville next Saturday to take on the undefeated Red Devils.