In what could be considered the game of the year in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League when the season is in the books, Archbold managed 21 straight points in the second half then survived a failed two-point conversion by injury-riddled Patrick Henry who wanted to avoid overtime at all costs, leading to a 36-35 win for the Blue Streaks over the defending league champions Friday.
“They just made plays at the end of the night. Very proud,” said Archbold coach David Dominique of his team’s win. “We talked about at halftime, we said ‘you’re there, you’re right there’. We had the belief in ourselves and we came out and finished it.
“You don’t like a lot of games like that as a coach, your heart’s gonna go bad,” he added. “It’s just our defense hung in tough. We weren’t doing well early on, but we got some adjustments at halftime. I think the biggest thing was figuring out about us. It was more us, not the X’s and O’s.”
The offense for both teams opened up in the second quarter as each squad managed 15 points. Archbold’s came on passes of 65 and 61 yards from D.J. Newman to Antonio Cruz.
Patrick Henry would grab the lead back just before halftime when on first-and-10 from the Blue Streak 34 yard line, TJ Rhamy connected with Kolton Holloway for the first of three touchdowns on the night, putting them up 22-15 with under a minute to go after Rhamy added the extra point.
The Patriots got it first to start the second half, continuing the Rhamy to Holloway show. Following a holding call which set them up with second-and-15 from the Archbold 24, Rhamy lobbed one up for Holloway and the 6 foot, 2 inch wide out hauled it in for a 29-15 lead 2:30 into the half.
Archbold answered with a drive that took just under three and a half minutes. Tailback Caleb Hogrefe aided the drive both through the air and on the ground, leading to his six yard scamper around the right end on fourth and one and Devin Witte’s extra point brought them within 29-22 at the 6:02 mark of the third.
They got it back later in the quarter and Newman, making his first career start under center, flashed his talents. First he ran for five yards and a first down on third-and-1 from their own 31, then the next play he found Cruz over the middle for 15 yards down to the PH 49.
A holding call set them back, but Newman hit a streaking Spencer Short who raced 58 yards to paydirt to knot the score at 29-29 with 33 seconds left in the third.
“Their speed is the difference in that game,” stated Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann. “They’ve got speed everywhere. That quarterback is elusive. He’s tough.”
Newman finished 17 for 23 on the night for 336 yards and four TDs. He also ran for 49 yards on 11 carries.
“He’s earned it,” said Dominique of Newman, who replaced Brandon Taylor who had been the starter. “Not taking anything away from Brandon Taylor, you know he took it in stride today. But D.J., he’s one of those players that just gets it. He’s a very football savvy guy. And it showed tonight. He played lights out.”
“He sees the field. And that’s really good for our sake since we want to run the ball and throw the ball,” said Tony Grime who caught what ended up being the winning touchdown.
Penalties backed up PH and ultimately stalled them on the ensuing possession.
A Newman run of 17 yards gave the Streaks a first down inside Patriot territory at the 40. However, a holding call on a completed pass plus an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty – both going against Archbold – set the Streaks back. It set up a third-and-37 at their own 49, where Newman completed a ball to Elijah Zimmerman who advanced it to the PH 29.
That set up a fourth down play as Newman dropped one in to Grime in the end zone before the safety could make a play on it, giving the Streaks a 36-29 lead with 7:03 left.
“I saw it go up in the air and I was just like ‘man I have to get this for my team’,” said Grime.
The next Patriot drive ended prematurely, when Grime intercepted a first down pass intended for Holloway. But, PH did not surrender any points, thus giving themselves an opportunity.
They took advantage on a heave to Holloway that was misplayed by the Streaks, and the senior galloped to the end zone from 80 yards away for a potential game-tying score.
However, the Patriots sought the win. With injuries to key players like senior running back Wil Morrow, they elected to go for the two-point conversion.
The try failed as Rhamy, rolling to his right, lobbed one to the back of the end zone that was picked off by Archbold.
“It wasn’t gutsy. It was a smart move because we had about six kids injured,” said Inselmann of the decision.
It appeared as though the Patriots may have wrestled the ball from Zimmerman on the onside kick, but Zimmerman came out of the pile with the ball. Although initially ruling that PH had recovered, the officials gave it to Archbold upon further discussion.
The Streaks then successfully ran out the clock.
Cruz was Newman’s favorite target on the night, catching seven passes for 161 yards and two scores. The Streaks outgained the Patriots 495-430.
For PH, Rhamy hit 50 percent (7 for 14) of his passes for 213 yards and three TDs to one interception. He added 114 yards rushing and a score on 17 carries. Holloway had five catches for 182 yards and three scores.
Archbold improves to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the NWOAL with the win. They are at Bryan (1-3, 0-1 NWOAL) this Friday.
“It’s huge for us right now,” said Dominique on the significance of this win. “I think last week we kind of lost a little confidence against Lake. And we got it back this week. It’s a tough league slate though. Every week’s a grind and we gotta come right back and get ready for Bryan (next week).”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010