LIMA — Lima Senior’s Cole Mericle was a hero with his foot and his tackling abilities Friday night in Lima Senior’s 25-24 win over Toledo St. Francis de Sales.
After splitting the uprights with three seconds left in the game to give the Spartans the one-point advantage, Lima Senior kicked off to the Knights, who immediately began throwing the ball in hopes of producing a miracle win. It appeared this could happen when the St. Francis ball carrier found himself in open territory at the Lima Senior 30-yard line with only Mericle standing between him and the goal line.
The St. Francis player juked to avoid Mericle, but the former soccer player stayed with him and finally dragged him down with no time remaining to end the game.
The win ends a four-game losing streak for Lima Senior, which improved to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. St. Francis falls to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the conference.
“The coaches and the players had to keep tight and focused,” Lima Senior coach Andre Griffin said. “We panicked in the weeks before, but we didn’t panic this time.”
Lima Senior was down nine, 25-14, with 9:27 left in the game but rallied behind the play of quarterback Adrine Mitchell and some key defensive stands to overcome the deficit.
Mitchell, who rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries, was 17 of 27 for 255 yards and two touchdowns.
Spartan senior Keaton Upshaw, who scored the fourth quarter touchdown, finished with six catches for 82 yards and one touchdown.
St. Francis running back Malachi Wyse gave the Lima Senior defense fits all night and was one of the reasons for the Knights grabbing the second half lead. Wyse rushed for 170 yards on 31 carries and scored three touchdowns.
In the first half, Lima Senior jumped out to the early lead when the Spartans scored on their first two possessions.
Mericle’s 29-yard field goal put the Spartans on the scoreboard first at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter.
After holding the Knights to a three-and out, the Spartans retook possession of the ball on their own 35-yard line. Seven plays and 65 yards later, Lima Senior upped the lead to 9-0 after Mitchell connected with White from 27 yards out with 2:37 remaining in the first quarter. After the blocked extra point, the Spartans owned a 9-0 advantage.
The Knights’ lone score in the first half came on a 40-yard boot from Jarrett Puckett with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.
Griffin said he hopes this win gives the Spartans confidence with three games remaining.
“It is hard to get off a losing streak,” Griffin said. “When you get down, it is like, ‘Here we go again,’ but those guys played hard and came back.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter @JoseNogueras1.
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