FINDLAY – Everyone has heard of the notion ‘it ain’t over until it’s over.’ Archbold experienced that in the most literal sense Friday night, with Marion Pleasant going 99 yards in under a minute for the go-ahead score to stun the Blue Streaks 28-24 in a Division V regional semifinal at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
“It was a very tough loss for us. There’s really no words I can (say) to express how I’m feeling right now,” said Archbold coach David Dominique after the game. “But the big thing for us, we didn’t make enough plays tonight. They made more. Hats off to Marion Pleasant. They played a good game. They took advantage of some of our mistakes out there.”
It appeared as if the Streaks had sealed the win when Sam Petersen, who on the offensive side was filling in for twin brother Gabe Petersen at quarterback, intercepted Marion Pleasant’s Ethan Warner at the Archbold 43 yard line with 2:23 to go and a 24-21 lead.
However, Archbold failed to get a first down on their possession and had to kick it back to the Spartans with not much time on the clock.
A sack of Warner pushed them back to their own one with under a minute left. Now on second-and-15 from the one, Warner scrambled to his left and found Lane Russell who got behind the Blue Streak defense, scampering all the way down to the Streaks’ seven with 22 ticks to go.
After a spike on the next play, Warner escaped pressure, once again scrambling out to his left where he found Tristan Conklin in the left-corner of the end zone to grab the Spartans the lead.
“We did a good job of responding,” noted Pleasant coach Aaron Cook. “We preach that all the time and our kids did it. Give credit to our kids, they made plays. I told Ethan (Warner) to go be a ‘dude’ and that’s exactly what he did. He broke a tackle, spun out and made a play.”
The Streaks had less than 15 seconds to go on their final possession and Pleasant’s Bryce Lowry picked it off to seal it.
“We were there to make plays. And we didn’t make plays,” said Dominique of the final minute. “(It’s) no one person’s fault. We had all of our opportunities tonight, and we just couldn’t capitalize.”
In the first half, Archbold marched right down the field on their first possession, a drive ending in a Kaiden Bedsole 25-yard field goal to make it 3-0 at the 7:34 mark of the first quarter.
Later in the stanza the Spartan rushing attack got them on the board. Matt Chase got it started with a 20-yard jaunt down to the Archbold 30. Two plays later Patrick Blubaugh ran for 19 yards down to the five, and on the next play Warner kept it for a score to put them on top, 7-3.
The Streaks continued to use a great mix of run and pass to get across midfield in an effort to answer Pleasant’s touchdown.
On second-and-7 from the Pleasant 27, Sam Petersen connected with Isaiah Gomez on a hitch route who took it down to the six yard line for a first down with 11 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The drive carried over to the second quarter as Sam Petersen and Noah Gomez hooked up from 13 yards out on third and goal, making it 10-7 after Bedsole’s extra point.
Dominique was impressed with how his signal caller filled in for his brother.
“Sam stepped in,” said the coach. “I don’t think anybody gave us a chance without (Gabe), but he’s a competitor. The other guys around him stepped up as well.”
Pleasant started inside Blue Streak territory on the ensuing drive, capitalizing quickly. Chase took a sweep around the right end for a 34-yard TD to put them on top 14-10 with only 13 seconds gone in the second quarter.
The two offenses stalled for the rest of the quarter until the Streaks regained possession in the final minutes.
Sam Petersen put them in Spartan territory at the 42 with a 23-yard scamper. Now on a second-and-12 play at the 33, Nic Rodriguez got behind his man for a score and another lead change. The Streaks would take a 17-14 lead into the half.
Archbold started the second half with a nice drive that took up nearly five minutes, but Bedsole missed a field goal wide left to keep the margin the same.
In the fourth quarter, the two squads traded scores. First it was Noah Gomez running it in from nine yards out for Archbold, then Pleasant’s Carter Wolf caught a 13-yard pass from Warner.
That made the score 24-21 with 8:54 to go, and that is where it would stay until the heroics from the Spartans in the waning moments.
The Spartans outgained the Streaks in total yards, 336-307.
Sam Petersen paced the Blue Streak offense with 113 yards through the air and a pair of TDs, while also adding 155 yards rushing on 29 carries. Rodriguez caught two passes for 60 yards and a score, and Isaiah Gomez added three catches for 44 yards and a score.
For Pleasant, Blubaugh had 119 yards rushing and a TD on 19 carries. Chase carried 18 times for 100 yards.
With the loss, Archbold ends their season at 9-3.
“Our kids have a lot to be proud of this year,” concluded Dominique. “We proved a lot of people wrong. Hopefully it can springboard us into the future.”
Pleasant will now take on top-seed Eastwood at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium this Friday at 7:30 p.m. for the Division V, Region 18 championship.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010