Losing a safety kept it close in Trotwood’s title game

How close was Trotwood-Madison to piling on Dresden Tri-Valley in last Saturday’s Division III high school football state championship? That’s a judgment call.

It’s midway through the second quarter in the last of seven divisional state finals at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at Canton. Trotwood leads 7-0 on a signature 41-yard dip-wiggle-and-dash by Rams senior running back Ra’veion Hargrove.

And then it happens.

»SEE PHOTO GALLERY BELOW: For sequence of the near safety

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Pinned on their own 1, Tri-Valley sends Caleb Craig, a 5-foot-11, 192-pound senior, up the middle. No fakes or misdirection and the only runner in the backfield, he launches toward the line of scrimmage and is immediately pushed back by Rams’ defenders Kennedy Coates, James Parker, Javen Medley and others. They all fell in a heap 2-3 yards deep into the end zone.

It looked like a sure safety. That’s what the Spectrum commentators apparently said. Only it wasn’t. Trotwood narrowly missed getting a bonus two points and the following short-field kickoff.

Instead, Tri-Valley had second down on the 1-inch line. QB Andrew Newsom popped a 99-yard TD streak through the heart of the Rams’ defense.

New 7-6 ballgame.

Back to the near safety. How do we know it wasn’t? With no replay to make a foolproof decision, we don’t know because it’s a judgment call.

I was at the corner of the end zone away from Trotwood’s side of the field shooting photos on that play. I, too, initially thought it was a blown call. Then I looked at the photos. Although not definitive, it looks as if Craig breaks the end zone plane – that’s all that’s necessary – for certain with his helmet. Not so certain with the ball.

It could have been ruled a safety as much as second down. It was a judgment call that lacked overturning proof of replay.

That end zone would be kinder to the Rams as the final seconds ticked off. It was where LB Jayvanare Nelloms made a goal-line INT to preserve a 27-19 Trotwood win.

It was the second state championship for Trotwood, which went 15-0 like the Rams’ 2011 D-II title team. That isn’t in dispute.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton


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