“I was freaking out,” Andi Meeks said. “I was so nervous. I was jumping up-and-down trying to keep my feet from freezing … then I heard ‘field goal, field goal!’ and I was so scared. My heart was beating so fast.”
The nerves were no match for her right foot. Andi Meeks bashed the ball through the uprights from 25 yards out as time expired to lift the Braves to a 17-14 win over the Pioneers in a Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division matchup. The victory clinched the Braves’ first playoff appearance since 2013.
“I know Andi’s tough, but she’s never had to kick in this situation,” Rick Meeks said. “She’s a first-year kicker, end of the game, playoff implications in Week 10, either we make it (or we don’t). She hammered it. As a Dad, I’m obviously extremely proud of her, more than just making that field goal.
“I don’t know if any other coach has had a daughter make a game-winning field goal. It’s pretty special.”
Shawnee (6-4, 2-2) will likely finish as the seventh or eighth seed in Division IV, Region 16, meaning it's likely headed on the road in the first round. The playoff pairings will be announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Sunday afternoon.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter,” Rick Meeks said. “It’s been a five-year drought for us. We’re hoping this starts another streak. We’re happy to be playing anybody.”
Shawnee sophomore Drew Mitch entered the game at quarterback for junior Robie Glass, who left the game midway through the third quarter with an injury.
“I was pretty scared,” he said. “I hadn’t practiced quarterback at all in the last two weeks. I thought we were going to have Robie in there. I just went in there and did what I was told.”
Mitch gave the Braves a 14-7 lead on a 48-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“That was asking a lot (of Mitch),” Rick Meeks said. “He didn’t take very many reps at all in practice. For him to come in there and play like he did, under the circumstances … Wow, it was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.”
Shawnee High School sophomore Drew Mitch runs the ball during the Braves 17-14 victory over Jonathan Alder on Friday night in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MICHAEL COOPER
The Pioneers tied the score when Garrett Proximire broke a 48-yard TD run with about 6:30 remaining.
Shawnee got the ball back with about 1:30 remaining in the game, but the Pioneers intercepted Mitch’s pass at midfield. A few plays later, Shawnee’s Jaden Hall intercepted a pass — his second turnover of the game — to give the ball back to his teammates near midfield.
Mitch hit Pete Mueller on back-to-back passes of 28 and 12 yards to move Shawnee into field goal range. Mueller hugged Glass as he watched the ball sail the through the uprights. He was the first person on the field to celebrate with Andi Meeks.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Mueller said.
Jonathan Alder (6-4, 2-2) scored on a 2-yard TD run by JT Keith to take a 7-0 lead in the first half. The Braves tied the score on a 21-yard TD run Glass two possessions later. The score was tied 7-7 at the half.
Andi Meeks’ was also a member of the Braves’ soccer team this fall, which saw its season end in the district semifinals earlier this week. She missed the first day of basketball practice Friday to play in the Braves’ final home football game — and it will have to wait at least one more week.
“I don’t want football to end,” Andi Meeks said. “It’s so fun.”