PANDORA — The Pandora-Gilboa double-reverse pass didn’t work too well in practice. But the Rockets pulled it off when it counted the most.
P-G’s wide-receiver pass, off the double reverse, was the difference in a 19-14 victory over McComb, the top-ranked team in Division VII, on Friday at Pandora-Gilboa.
The victory puts P-G (7-0, 5-0 Blanchard Valley Conference), ranked eighth in last week’s AP Division VII poll, atop the BVC. McComb is 6-1, 4-1 in the BVC.
“It’s amazing,” P-G quarterback Jared Breece said.
It was a rematch from the second round of the Division VII playoffs last year, when P-G knocked off McComb 28-9.
McComb led 14-13 entering the fourth quarter. Both teams’ running games were being shut down, and the Rockets went to their bag of tricks.
On first-and-10 from the Panthers 36, Breece handed the ball to Travis Maag, who flipped it to wide receiver/backup quarterback Silas Schmenk.
Schmenk came around the right side, stopped and hit a wide-open Breece for a 36-yard TD.
“We’ve run it the past couple of weeks in practice, but it hasn’t gone all that well, but the last week I started throwing the ball in the air a little more for Jared,” Schmenk said. “Tonight when I saw him out there (open), I was thinking, ‘Don’t throw it off. Get it up there and somewhere he can make a play on it.’ ’
The trick-play TD gave P-G the lead to stay 19-14 with 4:33 to go.
“I’m a very conservative coach,” P-G coach Matt Hershey said. “We’ve had trick plays in, but never really busted anything out, but we needed a spark. Their defense was so tough, and we couldn’t run on them. We had to do something to change the momentum.’’
Breece said, “We were waiting for the right moment to use it, and it was the right moment for sure. … It usually doesn’t work in practice because the scout team knows it.’’
The Rockets had to make one more stop to win it.
McComb took the ball from its own 36 to the P-G 4.
On fourth-and-goal from the 4, McComb’s Tanner Schroeder’s pass was just a foot too long for a diving Robert O’Dell in the left corner of the end zone.
The P-G defense was stout the entire game. It held McComb standout running back Kheaghan Loe to 12 carries for 13 yards and Schroeder to 10 carries for 31 yards.
“They’re good up front,” McComb coach Kris Alge said. “They have a lot of experience there. They’re thick kids; they’re hard to move. … We were hoping to run the ball on them, but we knew they were big and hard to move.’’
McComb’s top rusher was Jacob Dillon, who had 10 carries for 36 yards. Schroeder, who became forced to pass, completed 3 for 9 for 54 yards.
P-G running back Peyton Traxler was also bottled up most of the night, with 15 carries for 25 yards.
Breece came up with some big throws and completed 13 for 23 passes for 262 yards. He threw one TD pass for 25 yards.
Bryce Basinger had five catches for 120 yards. He had grabs of 40, 38 and 40 yards.
P-G led 7-0 early in the first quarter, and it remained that way at halftime.
Both teams’ defenses were like walls in the first half, and both were stacking the line against the run.
Loe, McComb’s pounding, 5-foot-8, 185-pounder ran over Leipsic last week for well over 200 yards. He came in with 810 yards and an 8.8 yards-per-carry average. But every time Loe went to the corner in the first half, there were three Rockets sitting there waiting for him. At the half Loe had six carries for minus-2 yards.
“We have good players, and our front seven is our most experienced group,” Hershey said. “We felt confident in our ability to stop their run. We stopped what we wanted to stop, and we took our chances with other things.’’
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