WALTON | We’ve seen some dramatic games this season and in the decades past.
Friday night in the heart of Indiana, two 2A schools gave us an all-timer.
Grey-bearded vets all around Owens Memorial Field at the Class 2A regional called it the best game they’ve ever seen.
After a knock-down, drag-out whatever-you-want-to-call-it, all-out brawl, when the players emptied onto the field, everyone wept, and everyone clapped, regardless of whose side they were on. This was prep football at its purest.
Andrean, which had pulled off dramatic regular-season wins and escaped the sectional final, crafted a screenplay’s worth of theater into a 67-66 win in five overtimes Friday.
“Hands down, it’s the best game I’ve ever played in,” Andrean defensive back Dakota Cooper said amid a cheering hoard moments after he provided the lone defensive stop of the five overtimes.
“This was an epic game.”
Cooper broke up a two-point conversion pass in the back of the end zone, and moments later quarterback Matt DeSomer scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the game — fourth of overtime — and senior Matt Anderson’s kick provided the historic win.
Andrean (11-2) hosts Fort Wayne Luers in the Class 2A northern semistate Friday at Father Vincent Eckert Stadium on Broadway.
This off-, off-Broadway drama came down to Andrean’s unstoppable flex option play and Cass’ almost-as-unstoppable ground attack.
“It was our signature play against their signature play,” Andrean coach Phil Mason said. “I think coach (Scott Mannering of Cass) and I were just waiting to see who was going to fail.”
Anderson gave Andrean new life when the 59ers had surrendered a 28-12 halftime lead and trailed 31-28 with 3:32 to play. The kicker barely cleared the crossbar to convert a 37-yard field goal with 34.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
In overtime nerves did not overwhelm the veteran players, and DeSomer took it in on a fake handoff that turned into a quarterback draw four times and ran for the two-point conversion in the fourth and fifth overtimes.
“I thought they’d key on me, but I guess not, and they kept going for the fake,” DeSomer said. “I like having the ball in my hands. I wanted to get the job done.”
DeSomer, a junior, made some mistakes in the second half to allow the host Kings (11-2) back into the game, but the mustachioed quarterback said afterward that he grew up a lot during the overtimes.
“As far as my smarts, I need to work on some things,” he said, “but leadership-wise, I think I gained a lot more tonight.”
DeSomer scored four of Andrean’s five overtime touchdowns, and Zack Kogut had the other. Kogut’s came in the second overtime, but he failed to get in for the two-point conversion. Cass got the ball on the second part of the second overtime and scored, but Tylor Petkovich blocked the kick try by Cass, who had issues on PAT kicks all night, and the third and fourth overtimes followed with the teams trading alternate eight-point gains.
DeSomer began the game on the verge of a sack and cost his team 16 yards with an intentional grounding penalty. Once the second quarter began, though, he carved up the Kings.
He hit Donovan Chandler for a 14-yard touchdown and ended the half with a 13-yard strike to Tylor Petkovich. In between he had touchdown runs of 46 and 18 yards and converted a fourth down run two plays before the hook-up with Petkovich.
“I thought from the end of the first quarter to halftime, that was the best 15 minutes of Andrean football I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been here seven years,” Mason said. “We talked about overcoming things, and tonight we overcame some things.”