In a game dominated by offense, defense was responsible for the biggest play of Piqua’s 33-27 victory over Butler at home Thursday night.
Indians linebacker Ben Schmiesing made sure of it.
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With Butler trailing by six and moving down the field late in the fourth quarter, the Indians forced a fumble at their own 20-yard line that Schmiesing recovered.
“I saw the ball hanging out there and I knew I could get it and I grabbed it and when I fell to the ground I realized the ball was in my hands,” he said. “I can’t even tell you the emotions going through me to be able to make a play like that here on senior night.”
The Indians improved to 5-3 and kept their Division III, Region 12 playoff hopes alive with two regular season games to play. In the latest Ohio High School Athletic Association computer rankings, Piqua was ranked 18th. The top eight in each division qualify for the playoffs.
Piqua is hungry for a berth in the state tournament after missing out a year ago. The Indians thought they had qualified, but the school felt the reverberations of two forfeits incurred by Dunbar. Those losses impacted Piqua and left the Indians out.
“This year, I”m hoping we win out and get our chance to get in there and see what happens from there,” senior quarterback Austin Davis said.
Davis was 13-of-25 for 222 yards. He completed four touchdown passes, all to fellow senior Hayden Schrubb. Schrubb’s night included eight catches for 149 yards.
“We’ve been throwing balls in the backyard forever,” Davis said.
Piqua entered the game off a one-point, Week 7 loss to Sidney. The school’s other two losses were to Trotwood-Madison and Franklin. If the playoffs started today, each one of those opponents would be in.
“We’ve lost two close games to two great opponents, and we’re a little frustrated and this was a good win for us because this is a quality football team,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “We were able to come in here and stave off some adversity. That was a tough game out there.”
Butler (3-5) opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run from senior Logan Flatt. Minutes later, quarterback Mason Motter hooked up with junior receiver Bryant Johnson for a 14-yard score, giving Butler a 13-0 lead.
Davis and Schrubb then went to work. The duo connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes to play in the half. A few moments later, they were making magic again, hooking up on a 30-yard score.
Schmiesing, who also doubles as a running back, finished off a drive to begin the third quarter, giving Piqua a seven-point lead.
Down seven late in the third, the Aviators rallied.
Motter passed to Johnson for their second touchdown of the game with 4:54 in the third. With nine seconds to go in the period, the Aviators had the lead after Flatt rushed for his second score from a yard out.
The curtain wouldn’t be pulled on the Davis-Schrubb show, though, as the combo combined for two more touchdowns, going for 19 and 29 yards.