By Rob Kiser
VANDALIA — It didn’t come easy.
But, the Piqua football team made all the big plays in the second half, to get a much needed 36-26 win over Vandalia-Butler Friday night.
The Indians improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the GWOC American North, while Butler dropped to 4-4 and 1-2.
“It was a big win,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “We got some big points (in the computer ratings) and it is great to be 3-0 in the GWOC North.”
One big play and one crucial drive put the Indians over the top.
Piqua was driving deep in Vandalia territory leading 14-12 and was unable to get any points out of it.
Then Piqua started the second half by driving across midfield before having to punt.
“We didn’t get points off either one of those possessions,” Nees said.
But, when Butler punted the snap bounced back to the punter who put his knee down on the one-yard line to give Piqua the ball there.
“We definitely got some breaks,” Nees said.
It took Allen Schrubb just one play to bull into the end zone. On the conversion, Micah Karn had the presence to run after bobbling the snap and made it to the corner of the end zone to make it 22-12.
“That was huge, we needed that,” Piqua running back/linebacker Ben Schmiesing said about getting the ball on the one-yard line.
Butler came right back.
On fourth-and-four from the Piqua 44, Mason Motter found Bryant Johnson on a slant across the middle and it went for 44 yards and touchdown to get the Aviators back within 22-19.
On Butler’s next drive, Schmiesing stripped running back Logan Flatt and Tristen Cox recovered at the Vandalia-Butler, but the Indians could not convert.
But, after an interception gave Butler the ball on its own six, the Piqua defense held the Aviators to minus-two yards and Butler had to punt from its end zone.
“Coach Nees talked us at halftime about stopping the run game,” Schmiesing said. “The coaches put us in a position to succeed in the second half.”
Hayden Schrubb returned the punt 15 yards to the Butler 25 and Piqua would not miss on the opportunity this time.
Twice, on fourth-and-two — from both the 17 and five-yard line, Schmiesing ran for first downs.
“The offensive line did a great job and I just had to make sure I made the first down,” Schmiesing said.
Allen Schrubb ran it into the end zone from two yards out to make it 29-19 with 4:51 to go in the game after the third of four Robbie Comstock PAT kicks.
“We just needed to finish a drive,” Scrubb said.
Butler turned the ball over on downs on its 21 and on the next play, Allen Schrubb ran wide and took it all the way to the end zone to put the game away and make it 36-19 with 3:06 remaining.
“It felt great to break loose like that,” Schrubb said. “Ben (Schmiesing) and I work really well together and the offensive line did a great job.”
Vandalia made the final 36-26 on a TD pass from Motter to Treylann Sanders, before Hayden Schrubb recovered an on side kick.
Allen Schrubb then ran 38 yards to the Butler 12 to go over 100 for the game, before Piqua took a knee.
“You always want to take it to the house,” Schrubb said with a laugh about nearly breaking the run.
Piqua had taken a 7-0 lead on its first drive, with quarterback Austin Davis being pushed into the end zone from the one by Schmiesing and Allen Schrubb.
Vandalia answered with a 4-yard TD run by Jabari Wortham and a 37-yard run by Logan Flatt to go up 12-7.
Piqua would put together a 68-yard drive, with Schmiesing having runs of 16 and 28 yards before taking it in from the one to give Piqua a 14-12 lead they would take to the locker room — leading to a second half of big plays.
“It took til my senior year to beat them (Vandalia),” Allen Schrubb said with a smile. “I think it had been seven years (since Piqua beat Vandalia) and this was the biggest game of all of them.”
Piqua will now finish with home games with Tippecanoe and Troy.
“We are taking it one game at a time,” Schmiesing said. “Next week with Tippecanoe is a big game and that is all we are thinking about.”
After making all the big plays against Vandalia.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.