ST. MARYS – The Roughriders didn’t lead once in regulation but found themselves in the lead when it mattered most as they moved to 3-0 in Western Buckeye League play with a 35-34 overtime victory Friday night over visiting Shawnee.
After being forced to punt on their opening drive the Indians got their offensive machine rolling early on their second trip with the ball as they marched 56 yards in just over four minutes and on top of the scoreboard 7-0 when Quarterback Johnny Caprella connected on a 9 yard touchdown pass to runningback Javion Daniels.
As they would be forced to do for most of the contest the Roughriders would push one of their own scores across in response to an Indian marker. Led by big runs from the trio of Shannon Fowler, Sean Perry, and Braeden Dunlap the Riders found themselves quickly knocking at the door to achieve their first touchdown. Colin Clements second rushing touchdown of the season, this time from a yard out with 1:28 remaining in the opening period pulled St. Marys back to even at 7-7.
Shawnee tossed an interception that was secured by Drew Jacobs on an overthrown ball on their next possession, but would again find themselves in the scoring column as they capped off an 89 yard five minute plus drive following a 56 yard Trey Fisher punt that pinned the Indians at their own 11.
Having already scored on a pass reception, Daniels would add a rushing score to his resume on the evening as he jaunted four yards down the right sideline with 5:06 left in the half to make the game 14-7 Shawnee where it would stay throughout the halftime break.
If the first half was a defensive struggle then the second half could be best described as an offensive explosion between the two longtime WBL rivals.
St. Marys began the scoring explosion on the opening drive of the third as they moved themselves 63 yards in just under four minutes and to even at 14-14 when Dunlap connected with Ty Howell for a 25 yard pass and catch touchdown.
On the first play of the fourth quarter and on fourth and three to go the Indians pushed back ahead by seven points at 21-14 when Caprella sprinted down the right side and in to the endzone from 39 yards yard with just ten seconds gone in the period.
Similar to what they had done to open the half the Roughriders put together a quick strike drive that yielded the game tying touchdown with just 5:38 to go when Shannon Fowler scored on a six yard rush.
Not to be outdone by their hosts the Indians again scored quickly to retake the advantage just 2:20 later when Daniels scored for a third time in the game and for the second time on the ground on the evening with a 46 yard score to push Shawnee’s lead to 28-21 with 3:18 to go.
Eight plays and 68 yards is all it took for St. Marys to pull the ballgame back to even once again when the WBL’s second leading rusher Sean Perry scored for the first time on the night from 31 yards away to make it a 28-28 contest.
Despite being able to move the ball effectively thanks to quick feet from Caprella and screen passes to wideout Grant Wheeler the Indians were able to move to midfield with time winding down but were unable to score before the final buzzer of regulation and force the game to a first overtime period.
On their first and ultimately only possession in overtime St. Marys relied again on the duo of Fowler and Dunlap for their first lead of the game. With his second carry of the quick three play drive it was Ty Schlosser who pushed his team ahead 35-28 with a 1 yard touchdown run that utilized Gabe Vandever’s fifth extra point of the game to give the Riders a seven point lead.
Perhaps to the surprise of their opponents the Indians utilized four running plays and pulled within a point of tying the game when Caprella scored from five yards out.
Shawnee coach Frank Crea rolled the dice for his team and chose to attempt a game winning two-point conversion instead of possibly sending the game to a second overtime, but fell short when Caprella was stuffed near the goal line by the Riders who secured their sixth all-time overtime victory in ten chances.
Offensively Shawnee saw their QB Caprella rush for 143 yards on the evening in addition to throwing for 122 on 16/21 passing. Joining the Indian attack on the ground was Wheeler who carried 14 times for 120 yards.
Next week the Indians (2-2, 1-2) will be home as they take on the Van Wert Cougars.
St. Marys was led on the ground by Sean Perry who toted the football 15 times for 120 yards on the night. The Roughriders (3-1, 3-0) will travel to Kenton to take on the Wildcats in Week 5 next Friday night.