MIDDLETOWN — The Preble Shawnee football team saw multiple red zone opportunities come up short for the second week in a row, and for the second week in the row it lost a game it perhaps should have won.
This week the loss came at the defending SWBL Buckeye Division champion’s home turf, as the Arrows traveled to Middletown Madison and lost 28-21 on Friday Sept. 18.
Despite a huge game from Trey Smith, who came up with several big catches in the fourth quarter on his way to seven catches for 192 yards and a touchdown, two redzone turnovers derailed the Arrow offense as the team came up a few plays short of snagging a second straight victory over the Mohawks.
The game started off as well as it could have for the team, after Madison fumbled a punt and the Arrows capitalized on a 28-yard Nyles Anderson touchdown run, giving them a seven point lead less than 90 seconds into the game.
Shawnee drove right down the field after its defense held on fourth down, and they were on the attack again. On first and goal, a play action worked beautifully and Tom Buell was wide open in the end zone.
The pass was a little high and Buell was unable to haul it in after the ball hit his hands and fell into the driving, outstretched arms of a Madison defender in the end zone.
Suddenly the momentum changed and for the second week in a row, Arrow head coach Matt Hopkins discussed his team not scoring in the red zone.
“Any time you leave points on the field it’s huge,” he said. “You can’t let league champs at home have any type of momentum and that was a huge 13 point swing, but is that the play of the game? Absolutely not. We didn’t stop the run very well and there were a bunch of plays you can look back on and say ‘that was the game’.”
The interception also sparked the Mohawks’ ground and pound, triple option attack as it sprung Zach Friend for a 64-yard touchdown run with nine minutes to go in the first half.
Shawnee appeared to recover from the two big plays when Smith hauled in a 54-yard touchdown reception form quarterback Joby Williams to give them a 14-7 lead with 7:43 left in the half.
A four-minute Mohawk drive ended with quarterback K.C. Lindon’s first of two passing touchdowns, despite only throwing six passes, as he found Friend in the end zone from 32 yards out. The PAT was blocked and the Arrows held a 14-13 lead going into the locker room.
Madison began dominating the ball and the clock in the third quarter and a five-yard Friend touchdown run and two point conversion gave the Mohawks a 21-14 lead.
The Arrows offense got back into the redzone to start the fourth, but a holding call on first down backed them up to the 22 for a first and goal from the 22 yard line. Trying to recover from the penalty, Williams threw a pass over the middle of the field but it was straight to a Mohawk waiting in the middle, who picked off the pass with nine minutes to play.
The clock ticked away as Madison continued to call run after run. In total the Mohawks racked up 440 rushing yards on 71 attempts, before the Arrow defense finally held on fourth down with 3:30 to play in the game.
The Arrows used two deep passes to Smith which set up Anderson who flipped his way into the end zone after a 15-yard run. The drive covered 81 yards and took just over 30 seconds, as the PAT tied the game up.
The Arrows scored so fast it left time for the Mohawks to return the favor, and they drove straight down the field. On third and 15 Lindon faked a handoff and found Connor Oligee in the end zone for his second touchdown pass from the 20 yard line — with only a minute left on the clock.
The Arrows managed to get to midfield before a deep ball on fourth and short fell incomplete and the Mohawks were victorious.
According to Hopkins, his team needs the best week of practice they’ve had all season and he expects it to happen.“Like I told our guys after the game, this has to be our motivation,” said Hopkins, who alluded to the fact Madison ripped off a long winning streak after their loss to the Arrows last year, and he challenged his team to do the same thing. “What type of team are we going to be on Monday? Are we going to have a great practice or let it ruin our season? I totally believe on Monday we are going to be a different team and get to business and go on a tear.”
The Arrows (2-2) will have a chance to show what type of team they will be this year when they travel to Milton-Union on Friday, Sept. 25.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.