ADA — Ryan Pitts snuck up on Micah Roberson like a stealth bomber.
It one quick maneuver, Pitts stripped Roberson after a 30-yard catch and run.
That stopped a potential go-ahead score by Ada and put Lima Central Catholic back in control.
LCC scored five plays after Pitts’ strip and the T-Birds went on to post a 27-13 victory over Ada and capture the Northwest Conference championship Friday on a rainy, muddy night at War Memorial Stadium.
It was LCC’s fifth NWC title since entering the league in 2006. It was also the T-Birds’ final year in the league after being booted out by the NWC last year.
“It’s a good feeling and the NWC was one of our goals, but not the biggest goal,” LCC’s Colin Stolly said. “We just have to keep working.”
Pitts’ play came with LCC holding a 14-13 lead with 7:58 to play. Ada quarterback Mason Acheson hit Roberson on the play and he gained 30 yards to the LCC 25. At that point he was wrapped up by Sam Huffman, but that’s when Pitts swooped in and stole the ball and ran it back 6 yards to the LCC 31.
“I saw the ball and I took it,” Pitts said. “He ran a stop and I slipped because it’s muddy out here and he caught the ball. Sam had him stopped on the sideline and I came up and just took the ball and started running the other way.
“I was thinking we’re down and we need a play to change the momentum so I went for the strip.”
LCC coach Jerry Cooper said it was “a great play.”
“They were moving the ball and Pittsy took the ball from him and Roberson is just fighting for yards,” Cooper said. “And the best part is after we stopped them, we went down and scored.”
Added Ada coach Mike Fell, “That’s a tough situation. The kid made a nice play. You get a chance to do something like that in this kind of weather and he did it.”
Five plays after the strip, Mykale Rogers ran 18 yards on a sweep for a TD to push the LCC lead to 20-13 with 5:55 to play.
LCC ends the regular season 10-0, 8-0 in the NWC. Ada is 9-1, 7-1 in the NWC.
Ada led 13-7 at the half, but LCC starting rolling in the second half behind the running and throwing of quarterback Colin Stolly.
“(Quarterback Coach) Axel Bowers told me at halftime and said the ‘X’ factor in this game will be Colin running the ball. They have to account for the speed backs that we have and it’s hard to account for that fifth guy,” Cooper said. “At critical points in the game, he made some big plays.”
Stolly finished with a game-high 120 yards on 12 carries. He had keeper runs around the end of 20, 23, 26, and 24 yards.
“It was a read for me,” Stolly said. “But I give credit to Jon (Washington) and Lito (Kalito Lasenby) for running the ball up there hard and keeping the backers inside, so I could get around the outside. And the offensive line did a great job.”
Fell said, “That was something we weren’t really counting on and he did a nice job of keeping the ball.”
Stolly’s 36-yard TD pass to Rogers right down the middle of the field gave LCC the lead to stay, 14-13 with 9:52 to play.
“Mykale had that backer beat and I just threw it over the top,” Stolly said. “The ball was slippery, but you just have to deliver it.”
In the air, Stolly completed 10 of 19 for 169 yards and two TDs.
LCC’s Jon Washington ran for 77 yards on 20 carries, but left with 10:52 to go and didn’t return because of a shoulder injury.
Ada’s Kellen Decker finished with 80 yards on 24 carries. Decker had 59 yards on 14 carries at the half.
LCC went out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 50-yard TD pass to Huffman.
Ada pulled off a fake punt, with Decker running for 12 on a fourth-and-2 from Ada’s 37. Ada capped the nine-play, 71-yard drive with Acheson’s 30-yard TD pass to Roberson. That tied the game at 7 with 2:41 left in the first quarter.
Acheson completed 11 of 20 for 146 yards. He had one TD and one interception.
“They did some nice things, but our defense rose up and put a zero on the board in the second half,” Cooper said.