By Rob Kiser
TROTWOOD — The Piqua football team exorcised a lot of demons Friday night with a 28-7 win over Trotwood-Madison in GWOC North action — Piqua’s first over the Rams since 2007.
“We have been working for this since junior high,” Piqua senior defensive back Alex Nees said. “We came down here in junior high and as freshman we came down here and lost close games. There have been so many close losses. The seniors were talking about that this week.”
Fellow senior defensive back Andrew Lee agreed as the Indians put themselves in position to return to the postseason since 2007.
Piqua is 5-3 after the win and has games remaining with Sidney and Troy.
“This is what we have worked for the last three years,” Lee said. “It feels great. I think (on defense) we just have more experience now.”
There is do denying it is a more opportunistic defense.
Already this season, Piqua has intercepted 11 passes and forced 18 turnovers. All last season, the Indians had just four interceptions and came up with 12 turnovers.
“That is part of it,” Nees said about the experience. “But, we just have an attitude. We are punks. I don’t know any better way to say it. We just don’t believe anybody can beat us.”
Friday was another great example.
Allen Schrubb hustled down to recover a fumble on a punt in the first quarter, while Tristen Cox — who gave the Rams line fits all night, recovered a fumble in the third quarter that led to Piqua’s third touchdown.
Dylan Cole led the defense with eight tackles and Darien Tipps-Clemons had seven. Ty Carnes made six tackles and Nees added five. Tipps-Clemons, Cox and Monnin all had sacks.
But, it would be hard to top the picks made by Lee and Nees at critical times.
Trotwood was still in the game, trailing 22-7 late in the fourth quarter when Lee sealed the Piqua win with an interception.
“I saw the ball coming, made the pick and went to my knees,” Lee said.
Nees had done the same at the end of the first half with Piqua leading 14-0 and Trotwood looking to cut the deficit in half in the final minute of the second quarter.
“I was in man coverage on a guy that was shorter than me,” Nees said. “I just read the play and undercut him. That’s when I knew (it was going to be Piqua’s night).”
Oh So Close: When Colton Bachman, who has worked hard to rehab his knee to get to where he can play, caught a pass that set up Piqua’s second touchdown, he missed by inches of dragging the Rams defenders into the end zone.
“I wanted that bad,” Bachman said.
But, he has no complaints as Piqua is sitting in position to make the postseason if it takes care of business the last two weeks.
“This is what I have worked so hard in therapy for,” Bachman said. “It is what we have worked for since we were sophomores.”
Saving Best for Last: How do you put in words what junior running back/linebacker/punter Tipps-Clemons is doing this season.
Clemons now has 20 touchdowns and 1,231 yards rushing and his third on the team with 40 tackles.
“I didn’t expect this,” Clemons said. “I just wanted to help on both sides of the ball. Sometimes it is tough. You have a long run and you have to go out and play linebacker.”
He accounted for 195 of Piqua’s 263 yards Friday night, rushing for 185 yards on 28 carries. He scored 26 of Piqua’s 28 points.
After getting Piqua on the board with a 25-yard TD run, his second score was a little more interesting.
While it was a 1-yard run, he dropped the ball on the way to the end zone, only to have it bounce back to him.
“I thought I was in big trouble,” Tipps-Clemons said.
After a 6-yard TD run on fourth-and-one and two-point PAT run gave Piqua a 22-0 lead, Clemons put the icing on the cake with a 70-yard TD run with 1:45 remaining.
“The line just opened a huge hole,” Tipps-Clemons said. “That was just a great feeling (to finish off the win).”
He also had seven tackles and a sack on fourtth-and-three at midfield to give Piqua the ball back midway through the fourth quarter.
“That was probably better than a touchdown run,” Tipps-Clemons said. “I have 20 touchdowns. I don’t get that many sacks.”
And Tipps-Clemons is well aware of what is at stake the next two weeks.
“It didn’t look good after the Butler game,” he said. “Then we beat Greenville and got the big win over Trotwood-Madison. We will get it done (against Sidney and Troy). We know what we have to do.”
They already ended one streak dating back to 2007 — and with two more wins, can end another.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.