LEIPSIC – Defense took center stage in Friday’s Blanchard Valley Conference football showdown between Leipsic and Pandora-Gilboa.
However, toward the end of the game, Leipsic had just enough in the gas tank to mount the drive it really needed.
Down, 10-6, Leipsic took full advantage of getting the football back with just a few minutes remaining to play in the game.
Leipsic quarterback Dillan Niese cashed in with 35 seconds left to play, with a nine-yard touchdown run to pull his team ahead for the hard-fought 13-10 victory over its backyard rivals at John Edwards Field. That TD run capped off a 73-yard scoring drive for the Vikings.
With the win, Leipsic improves to 2-1 overall and 2-1 in the BVC. P-G slips to 1-2 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
“This may be the most resilient group of kids that I’ve ever been around,” Leipsic head football coach Joe Kirkendall said. “We were out-manned. Coming into the season, we knew that we were really young. So, we decided to play more young guys. We tried to do more two-platoon football. Our conditioning won us this football game. Their mental toughness won us the football game. … They also made some plays.”
For most of the game, it was P-G who looked to be in control.
By halftime, Pandora-Gilboa was clinging to a 10-0 lead. The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter.
P-G finally erased the goose eggs on the scoreboard, less than a minute into the second quarter.
Quarterback Silas Schmenk found Bryce Basinger open in the end zone for a 14-yard scoring strike. That scoring drive traveled 81 yards in nine plays. The point after by Elam Suter gave the Rockets the 7-0 lead.
The Rockets added three more points, late in the second quarter, on a 21-yard field goal by Suter.
In the first half, P-G rushed for 84 yards. Running back Sam Burkholder led the Rockets with 51 rushing yards on 12 carries. For the game, Burkholder rolled up 63 yards on 19 carries. Schmenk was 4 of 15 passing for 103 yards in the first half.
P-G recorded seven first downs in the first half.
Leipsic rushed for just 44 yards in the first two quarters. Niese was 5 of 15 passing for 40 yards. The Vikings moved the chains just four times in the first half.
Neither offenses could sustain drives in the third quarter
At the end of three quarters, the score remained 10-0, P-G.
Leipsic finally got on the scoreboard with 4:43 left to play in the game.
Niese ran it in from six yards out to cap off a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive. On the extra point, however, there was a bad snap. P-G led 10-6.
The Rockets took over.
However, Schmenk threw his third interception of the night. Tyler Sickmiller nabbed his second pick on the night, giving his offensive unit one more opportunity.
That’s when Leipsic mounted the scoring drive that it dearly needed.
“You have to start with the fact that our defense did a phenomenal job for four quarters,” Kirkendall said. “I was beyond impressed with our defense.”
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