The St. Xavier Bombers won an epic battle of two of the top teams in the state of Ohio beating the Middletown Middies 43-39 at Nippert Stadium Friday night.
Trailing by 11 points with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, St. Xavier came up with several clutch plays to score the final fifteen points of the contest and pull out the victory.
The Bombers (1-0) were without star Trey Kilgore, who was on the sideline wearing a cast on his lower left leg. The senior is out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Classmate Kevin Milligan would pick up some of that slack as he ran in a direct snap from center on the 8-yard line to score the game’s first points, something many were expecting coach Specht to do with Kilgore.
Middletown (0-1) responded 28 seconds later with Jalin Marshall’s 74-yard touchdown run, but the point after wasn’t even attempted due to a mishandled snap. The inability of the Middies to convert extra points would play a huge role in this game. With just over a minute remaining in the first quarter and Middletown driving Joseph Barrett caused a Will Peters fumble, St. Xavier recovered deep in their own territory, and that was a second costly mistake for the Middies.
Bomber quarterback Nick Tensing threw a 13-yard touchdown to Milligan early in the second quarter and the score was 14-6. Middletown scored on another long Marshall run, this time from 64-yards out, bringing them within one point at 14-13 with 4:38 to go in the half. St. Xavier wrapped up the first half scoring with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tensing to Ryan Frey, and at the half it was 21-13.
Again The Middies answered and again it was a long touchdown run from Marshall, going 65-yards for the score one minute and five seconds into the second half. In what turned out to be a gigantic play, linebacker Brian O’Toole tackled Marshall on the two-point attempt and Middletown trailed 21-19.
Continuing with the see-saw fashion of the game the Bombers extended their lead to 28-19 on CJ Hilliard’s 5-yard touchdown scamper, but the momentum was about to swing hard towards the Middies. With five minutes to go in the third quarter Lance Johnson caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Marshall on a fourth down play, this time they would get the extra point try off, however it missed right and the score was 28-25.
For the first time in the game the same team scored twice in a row, with Will Peters scoring on a 1-yard touchdown plunge and Middletown had their first lead of the night 32-28 with 10:43 left in the game. The Middies scored their third consecutive touchdown on a 5-yard run by Yvonte Glover with 6:47 to go and it seemed they had the game in control 39-28. Middletown suffered a huge blow on that drive however as Johnson left the game with a right leg injury and was eventually carted back to his team’s locker room.
With the odds stacked against them St. Xavier started their climb out of that 11 point deficit and with 4:43 to go got back to within three on a three yard touchdown run by Ben Glines followed by a two-point conversion pass from Tensing to Milligan. The Bombers would use their time outs as Middletown was trying to kill the clock and eventually forced the Middies to punt giving St. Xavier one more chance. Marshall was knocked down after punting the ball as the Bombers were going for the block, no flag was thrown much to the chagrin of the Middletown faithful.
St. Xavier faced fourth down inside their own territory as quarterback Tensing’s first two passes were a little high and it seemed like he could falter under the pressure. He would gain his composure converting several key plays on the Bomber’s last drive and after his last run left St. Xavier at the 5-yard line. Hilliard would do the rest running into the end zone with 52 seconds on the clock giving his team the lead 43-39. Some were wondering if the Bombers hadn’t left too much time on the clock.
Marshall wasn’t finished yet, and with eight seconds remaining had his team on the St. Xavier three yard line. Marshall would scramble left out of the pocket then cut back to his right and saw an open Chance Sorrell in the end zone but the pass sailed just out of the tight end’s reach and time had expired with St. Xavier surviving the Middies 43-39. Middletown’s three failed point after attempts, along with the Bomber’s conversion of a two point try made up the difference of four points that separated these two clubs Friday.
Both teams will have to avoid a letdown next week from this enormous, emotional match up. St. Xavier will go to Indian to face Cathedral next week, while the Middies will face off with Springfield. The St. Xavier Bombers won an epic battle of two of the top teams in the state of Ohio beating the Middletown Middies 43-39 at Nippert Stadium Friday night.
Trailing by 11 points with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, St. Xavier came up with several clutch plays to score