PIQUA — Twenty seconds.
That is about how long it took Cincinnati Wyoming to score two touchdowns late in the first half against St. Marys to snatch momentum in a tight game and help springboard the Cowboys to a 35-14 victory in the Division IV state semifinal game Saturday night.
With the loss, the Roughriders end their season 12-2. Wyoming heads to the state championship game against Girard in Canton at 8 p.m. Saturday.
With a little less than six minutes remaining left in the second quarter, the two teams were tied at 7-7 and Wyoming had the ball at its own 18. The Cowboys manufactured a 15-play, 82 yard drive to go up 14-7 after the successful extra point with 38 seconds left in the half.
On the kick-off the Cowboys bounced one short down the right sideline that caught the Riders napping and Wyoming quickly pounced on the pigskin at the St. Marys 40-yard line. On the next play Cowboys quarterback Evan Prater, who was the main catalyst in the Cowboys’ offensive attack, found Pete McMichen at the one yard line and on the next play Prater plunged in from 1-yard out and the Cowboys owned a 21-7 advantage going into halftime.
“Right before half that was a huge momentum swing,” St. Marys head coach Doug Frye said. “They did a great job of executing that (onside kick) and we did a poor job of defending it. Dog gone it it was the first time I didn’t step into the special teams huddle so I am kicking myself.”
On the opening drive of the second half, the Cowboys would tack on their third touchdown of the evening after another big drive when Prater found McMichen in the end zone from 24-yards out with 8:37 left in the third quarter to cap off an 81 yard, 11 play drive. .
The Riders did slice the lead to 28-14 with 4:51 led in the third quarter after recovering a fumble at the Cowboys 11 that was quickly turned into points when Sean Perry raced in from 11 yards out on the next play.
And when the Roughriders recovered their own onside kick it appeared the Riders were ready make a comeback.
However, the stout Cowboy defense, which had held the Riders in check all night, continued to shutdown the Riders’ offense and St. Marys’ drive stalled at 34 yards line and the Riders would never mount another scoring threat.
“I thought there was some chances we had and in game like this it is a real fine line and the onside kick hurt us and we missed a couple of touchdown passes that were wide open,” Frye said. “Give Wyoming credit. They took advantage of their opportunities and we didn’t.”
Defensively, the Cowboys held St. Marys to 113 rushing yards on the night and 151 total yards.
Perry, the leading rusher for the Roughriders, was limited to 58 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown.
The Cowboys, who continually harassed Braeden Dunlap when he set up to pass, was sacked six times on the night.
Dunlap’s counterpart, Prater did damage on the ground and threw the air. The junior signal caller rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and carved up the Rider secondary for 187 yards and three touchdowns after being an efficient 11 for 17 with no interceptions.
The 35 points scored was the most surrendered by the the Roughriders this season in a game.
“They were a senior dominated football team so we knew would have chances but like I said he had chances and didn’t get the job done,” Frye said.
Frye added that he was disappointed with the loss but was proud of the team’s accomplishment’s this season that included a third consecutive Western Buckeye League title and a trip to the state semifinals.
“I think we took another step in the right direction and that was good for our community and our school system and our football program.”