FOREST PARK, Ohio - Quarterbacks Michael Bittner of Elder and Kenny Mayberry of Winton Woods put on a show, matching touchdown for touchdown in an overtime thriller Friday night.
Bittner ran for three TD's and passed for two. Mayberry ran for two and passed for two. But a missed extra point sent the Warriors to their first loss, 35-34, at Winton Woods.
PHOTO GALLERY: Elder 35, Winton Woods 34 (OT)
Elder's chances of making the Ohio Division I playoffs got a boost from the victory over the unbeaten second-place team in Division II computer points, according to expert Steve Shuck. He now projects Elder at No. 7, up from No. 10 in the race for the eight Region 4 playoff spots.
Bittner came off the bench after injured QB Danny Nieman was ineffective early in the game.
“Me and Nieman knew that we both could play tonight,” Bittner said referring to Elder’s two-quarterback system this season. “When Coach Ramsey told me that I was playing, Danny was right by my side, supporting me, helping me out with reads as I came off to the sideline. It was just a great team win.”
The overtime opened with Bittner, a junior, scoring on a 1-yard TD run for the visiting Panthers (5-3). Sophomore Sam Harmeyer kicked his fifth PAT.
Mayberry, a senior, answered with his own 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak. But Winton Woods' kick to tie the game bounced off the left upright and left the Warriors at 7-1.
“We are starting to get on a roll,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “I was fully confident that we would play well tonight. This is a special group of guys that’s fought through three tough losses and we got a big win tonight.”
Winton Woods, looking for its third straight win over Elder, gave the Panthers all they could handle.
“On both sides of the ball, they are as good as any team that we played,” said Ramsey. “If that team stays together they can win the Division II state championship.”
After a sluggish start by each team, Warriors linebacker Chris Oats got a hand on an Elder punt and set up Winton Woods with good field position.
Mayberry connected on a 41-yard pass play with wide receiver Raequan Prince, putting the Warriors on the 5-yard line. Running back Miyan Williams finished the deal on the next play with a great second effort for a touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Cornell Beachem set up another Winton Woods touchdown with 28-yard run. One play later Mayberry connected with Prince for a 26-yard TD,
But the Warriors’ 14-0 lead was not safe once Bittner came off the bench. The junior scored one touchdown on the ground and passed for another to senior receiver Danny Faillace late in the half, tying the score 14-14 at halftime.
Faillace gave the Panthers its first lead, 21-14 in the third quarter, with a 19-yard touchdown catch from Bittner.
Prince, who had a game-high 146 yards receiving, scored again on a 41-yard catch-and-run with Mayberry, tying the score 21-21.
Winton Woods got the ball right back and was looking to retake the lead in the fourth quarter. But Brett Marsh intercepted Mayberry and returned it to the 9-yard line. Bittner scored on the next play, giving Elder a 28-21 advantage.
The Warriors showed great composure and marched down the field on the ensuing possession. Mayberry topped off the nine-play drive with a 1-yard run tying the game again at 28-28.
The Winton Woods defense played well despite being without Oats, who was out with any injury during the second half. The Warriors stopped Elder on its final drive of regulation, forcing overtime.
Elder hosts International School of Broward (Florida) next week, then closes the season at La Salle.
Winton Woods visits Columbus DeSales next week and hosts Moeller in its regular-season finale.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Elder 0-14-7-7-7 – 35
Winton Woods 7-7-0-14-6 – 34
WW – Williams 5-yard TD run (Velasquez kick).
WW – Prince 26-yard TD catch from Mayberry (Velasquez kick).
E – Bittner 2-yard TD run (Harmeyer kick)
E – Fallice 7-yard TD catch from Bittner (Harmeyer kick).
E – Fallice 19-yard TD catch from Bittner (Harmeyer kick).
WW – Prince 41-yard TD catch from Mayberry (Velasquez kick).
E – Bittner 9-yard TD run (Harmeyer kick)
WW – Mayberry 1-yard TD run (Velasquez kick).
E – Bittner 1-yard TD run (Harmeyer kick)
WW – Mayberry 1-yard TD run (kick failed).