By Rob Kiser
Six weeks ago, you could have made a lot of money if you had said Piqua would be 7-2 and playing Troy for the GWOC American North Championship to close the regular season, with a good chance to be playing week 11.
The Indians were sitting at 1-2 — had just lost consecutive games — and were dealing with the loss of Darien Tipps-Clemons and Derek Hite for the season to ACL injuries.
But, that is exactly what has transpired as the Indians have run off six straight victories.
“It is pretty amazing,” Piqua quarterback Austin Davis. “We just started working really hard after the Franklin game. It feels great.”
And the formula has been a simple one.
Which didn’t change with a chance to even the score from a playoff loss last year to Tippecanoe — and with Troy coming up this week.
The Indians simply went out and took care of business in the 27-20 victory.
“At the beginning of the week, coach (Bill Nees) told us we could go the revenge route,” senior defensive tackle Tristen Cox said. “But, we just focused on Tippecanoe — taking one game at a time like we have all season. That is what has worked for us, so why change.”
Good Feeling: Piqua running back/linebacker Ben Schmiesing and the rest of the defense hadn’t forgotten last year. So, there was some satisfaction in holding Tippecanoe to two field goals in the first half and just 20 points for the game.
“Coach Nees did such a great job this week,” Schmiesing said about the head coach. “The coaching staff had us so well prepared for the game. It felt great to keep them out of the end zone in the first half.”
Ground Indian: Schmiesing and Allen Schrubb combined for 269 yards rushing.
Schmiesing had 167 on 22 carries, scoring three touchdowns while averaging more than seven yards a carry, while Schrubb had 102 yards on 18 carries, almost six yards per attempt.
“Some of those holes, you could have driven a truck through,” Schmiesing said. “Our offensive line did an amazing job.”
Air Piqua: Davis was razor sharp, completing 12 of 14 passes for 103 yards, including a 4-yard TD pass to Nate Monnin late in the first half. The Indians were also 5-for-7 on third downs.
“Starting with the Greenville game, we have been throwing more,” Davis said. “It has been a lot of fun.”
Big Chunks: With Piqua leading 21-13 and starting on its own 13 with a little over nine minutes remaining, it might have seemed like a tough spot.
Not only did the Indians go 87 yards, they did it in eight plays and overcame a holding penalty.
Piqua plays went for 13, 4, 8, 16, 21, 9, 10 and 17 on the drive to take a 27-13 lead.
Finishing Job: Piqua had the ball with just over three minutes remaining leading 27-20 and Tipp never saw the ball again.
Schmiesing and Allen Schrubb combined on a seven straight running plays to run out the clock.
After a procedure penalty put Piqua in a first-and-15, Schmiesing ran for 10 yards on first down and Schrubb got seven and a first down on second down.
“Tipp got some momentum, but we were able to stop it at the end,” Nees said about being able to run out the clock.
His Turn: With the injuries the Indians have had to deal with, a number of players have had to take turns going both ways.
Friday night it was receiver Caleb Patton. He stepped in to help the secondary out and recovered the only fumble of the game after Schmiesing stripped the ball.
“He was the man this week,” Nees said with a smile.
Getting Job Done: Once again, the defense was a balanced effort.
Linebacker Ty Carnes led the way with eight tackles, while Schmiesing and safety Dylan Cole had seven.
Patton, linebacker James Congdon and defensive back Jacob Bushnell all had six. Defensive tackle Josh Potter had five, while Cox, Monnin and linebacker Kraig Hemmert had four.
Now, it is on to Troy — with the momentum of an amazing six-week run.