By Scott Halasz
BEAVERCREEK — A spirited Beavercreek comeback came to an abrupt end Thursday night when a timing error prevented the Beavers from tying or winning on the last play of a 31-28 loss to Springboro.
Taking over on their own 20 with 2:13 left, the Beavers drove all the way to the Panthers six-yard line, but the officials apparently failed to stop the clock on two occasions, costing the Beavers — who were without a timeout — precious seconds. A last-ditch effort ended two yards short of a miracle comeback as time expired.
Springboro players ran on the field to celebrate, but the officials huddled for 10 minutes before consulting the rule book and deciding there was nothing they could do. Several Beavercreek players dropped to the turf in disbelief.
“They were trying to correct it,” Beavercreek coach Nic Black said. “Based on the rules, they didn’t have the power to do it. We should have had time to probably run two plays.”
That the Beavers were even in position to argue about the final sequence is no small feat. They trailed 31-14 early in the fourth quarter after ‘Boro’s Tyler Tischler caught his second touchdown pass from QB Brody Mahle.
But Beavercreek didn’t quit. A 1-yard run by Kaden Wenger made it 31-21 with 5:04 left and then after the Beavers recovered a Springboro fumble, QB Cody Hocker hit a wide-open Noah Corrigan for a 57-yard TD to make it 31-28.
Beavercreek’s defense again held up and forced a Springboro punt, setting up the wild ending.
“They don’t quit,” Black said. “They keep showing me a lot. I’m super proud of them. (But) we’re just so inconsistent at times.”
That inconsistency reared its ugly head in the first half, when three first-half turnovers led to 17 Springboro points, including a TD in the final minute of the first half.
“We gave up 14 points before the half,” Black said. “We should have never played defense for those two series. They know how to win and tonight is not it.”
Beavercreek (4-2 overall) trailed 17-14 at the half but dominated the first half in almost every way. The Beavers had 197 total yards, all on the ground, compared to 70 total for 3-3 Springboro, just 27 in the air. The difference was the three Beavercreek turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble.
Springboro took a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Charlie Kuhbander. The Panthers had a short field to work with after linebacker Andrew Weideman picked off a slant pass on the Beavercreek 41. He returned it to the Beavers 26-yard line.
The Beavers beefy offensive line asserted itself on the next drive, opening up huge holes for the Beavercreek run game. ‘Creek moved 80 yards all on the ground, mostly by quarter back Hocker, who started the drive with runs of 17, 18, and 15 yards. Wenger chewed up a good chunk of yards and bulldozed his way — with help from the linemen — for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Beavers a 7-3 lead.
Another perfect onside kick by Marcella Cash was recovered by Jack Kowalski at the Springboro 49. The Beavers were unable to move the ball, thanks in part to an illegal block in the back penalty. Tischler picked off a pass on third and 16, giving ‘Boro the ball on its own 33.
A questionable pass interference penalty aided the ensuing drive for the Panthers, who scored on a 28-yard run by Dylan Jones to take a 10-7 lead after the extra point.
Beavercreek came right back and took a 14-10 lead after a 57-yard run down the Springboro sideline by Corrigan.
The Beavers forced a punt on the ensuing possession, but turned it over to Springboro on the Beavers 13 yard line after a fumble with 2:03 left in the half.
Liam Foley plunged in from two-yards out five plays later to give the Panthers a 17-14 lead with 56 seconds left in the half.
Springboro extended the lead to 24-14, taking the opening kick of the second half and moving 62 yards on seven plays. The drive included a 22-yard run by Dylan Jones and a 9-yard TD pass from Mahle to Tischler.
Scoring by quarters
S 3 14 7 7
B 7 7 0 14
S – Kuhbander 31 field goal
B – Wenger 3 run (Cash kick)
S – Foley 18 run (Kuhbander kick)
B – Corrigan 57 run (Cash kick)
S – Foley 2 run (Kuhbander kick)
S – Tischler 9 pass from Mahle (Kuhbander kick)
S – Tischler 12 pass from Mahle (Kuhbander kick)
B – Wenger 1 run (Cash kick)
B – Corrigan 57 pass from Hocker (Cash kick)