WILMINGTON, Ohio - The Fenwick Falcons' perfect season came to an end with a couple of costly mistakes in the fourth quarter of the Ohio Division IV semifinals Saturday night.
Hartley added a pair of clutch fourth-down conversions to rally from behind and take a 26-14 victory, dooming the Falcons' hopes of playing for a state championship in Columbus next weekend.
Fenwick (13-1) led after three quarters, 14-13, but Hartley (11-3) started to take control of the contest about midway through the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 44-yard line with 7:20 left, the Hawks put together a heart-throbbing scoring drive.
Running back Quri Hickman, who eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing on the season in Saturday's game, broke off big run after big run as the Hawks’ offensive line wore down the Falcons’ defensive front.
Hickman’s 28-yard run got Hartley to the 22-yard line, and a couple more carries set them up with a first-and-goal. The resilient Falcons’ D held up and forced a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Hartley sent out the field goal kicker for an 18-yard attempt.
But the Hawks were flagged for delay of game. Rather than accepting the penalty and pushing them back 5 yards, Fenwick head coach Joe Snively and his staff decided to decline it, making it a tougher angle on a potential lead-changing field goal.
Given a second crack, Hartley opted to go for it and Hickman made the Falcons pay as he plunged into the end zone from a yard out. The two-point conversion failed, but the Hawks took a 19-14 lead with three minutes left.
Fenwick started the ensuing possession at their own 32, but within a play Hartley got the ball back on a Falcons’ fumble.
Fenwick’s defense forced a fourth-and-1 play, but Hickman broke through and took it to the house from 30 yards out to drive the nail in the coffin. Hartley converted an astounding 4-of-5 fourth-down attempts in the contest.
Hickman finished the night with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries.
Fenwick senior running back Vince Durham rushed for 100 yards and a score on 18 carries and classmate Nathan Jeffers added another TD on the ground.
Hartley held a 372-164 advantage in total yards and controlled the ball for over 30 minutes.
The Hawks advance to face Steubenville next week in the D-IV state title game in Columbus.
BISHOP FENWICK 7-3-0-16-26
vs. BISHOP HARTLEY 7-0-7-0-14
H: Nick Onega 26-yard RuTD (Hawk kick)
F: Nathan Jeffers 5-yard RuTD (Hirko kick)
H: Ben Hawk 30-yard FG
F: Vince Durham 2-yard RuTD (Hirko kick)
H: Ben Hawk 23-yard FG
H: Quari Hickman 1-yard RuTD (conversion failed)
H: Quari Hickman 30-yard RuTD (Hawk kick)
Records: Fenwick (13-1); Hartley (11-3)