Updated Sat, Nov 16, 2013 12:27 am
Playoffs call for being clutch and determined. And Joe Burrow portrayed both qualities Friday night in Logan.
The Gridiron Glory Player of the Year finalist crafted and plunged his way into the end zone from 20 yards out on Athens’ first play of overtime to give the No. 1 Bulldogs a 55-52 win over No. 4 Tri-Valley in the Division III, Region 9 semifinals.
Following the score, the Bulldog bench erupted in excitement, storming the field and embracing one another in their arms. The team ended their night with the perfect touch, singing their alma mater in front of a cold and wet Athens crowd.
With the game tied 42-42, Tri-Valley quarterback Brock Fargus botched a shotgun snap and Athens’ Dakotah McFee took it to the house with 2:25 left in the game, giving the Bulldogs the 7-point edge.
Fargus would not let the mishap bring him down.
With 22 seconds left, the Tri-Valley quarterback connected with Logan Bash from 16 yards out to tie the game at 49. Athens made a last-second push to win in regulation, but the Scotties defense chased Burrow down for a sack to force overtime.
The Bulldogs won the overtime toss, electing to give the Scotties the first offensive possession. Athens’ defense stepped up and held the Scotties to a 28-yard field goal, which proved to be enough for the Bulldogs to overcome.
The Gridiron Glory Game of the Week was a dogfight from the start and proved to hold up to its highly anticipated expectations.
Athens got on the board first when Burrow found Heath Wiseman from 19 yards out, giving the Bulldogs the 7-0 lead with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter. But, Tri-Valley was quick to respond.
The Scotties put together a 4:13 drive, which was capped off with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Fargus to Hunter Mohler, knotting the game up at 7 apiece.
After forcing a Bulldog punt, the Scottie’s jumped ahead with a 14-7 lead when Fargus connected with Mohler yet again, this time a dime from 31 yards out. Fargus went 8-for-10 with 129 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
The Scottie’s would soon scare the Bulldogs.
Tri-Valley forced another Bulldogs punt and extended its lead to two scores; however, the Bulldogs struck back and cut the deficit to 7. On the Scotties’ next possession, “Bubby” Scott took it in from 13 yards out to give Tri-Valley the 28-14 lead heading into halftime, or so they thought.
Burrow and the Athens offense got the ball back with :35 left until half—just enough time. Burrow drove his team downfield and found Adam Luehrman from 25 yards out with no time left on the clock, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room trailing 28-21.
Gridiron Glory Player of the Year Finalist Trae Williams took the opening kickoff of the second half to the house, quickly knotting the game up once again and giving the Athens Bulldogs the huge spark that they needed.
Williams finished with 90 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. Burrow ended the game 20-for-25 passing for 273 yards and six total touchdowns, two of which went to Wiseman.
With the thrilling overtime win, the Bulldogs (12-0) advance to the Division III, Region 9 finals to play the No. 2 Marion-Franklin Red Devils (11-1) Friday, Nov. 22. The location is to be determined.