By Grant Pepper
Talk about ‘going out with a bang.’
On Friday night the Oakwood Lumberjacks defeated the Monroe Hornets 9-6, as senior Jack kicker Bryan Koenig converted on a game-winning field goal in overtime. Friday’s game was also senior night for the Jacks.
Koenig scored all nine points for Oakwood, converting on three clutch field goals in the second half. Game-changing plays were also made in first half, however.
After the Jacks recovered a fumble at the Monroe 25 yard-line, Koenig missed his first field goal attempt of the game, and the score after the first quarter was tied at zero.
The Jacks would drive deep into Hornet territory at the beginning of the second quarter, only to be stopped ten yards from the end zone on an incomplete 4th-down pass.
After senior Oakwood quarterback Austin Erbe threw an interception near the end of the second quarter, Monroe found themselves in the red zone for the first time on Friday night. But after a few Hornet runs to get the ball inside the 10 yard-line, Oakwood defensive end Logan Jervis (12) sacked Monroe quarterback Taylor Larison (12) to force a 3rd and 13 for the Hornet offense.
Just plays later Jack corner Nathan Erbe (10) clocked Monroe wideout Jalen McDonald (12) on a screen pass play, and the big hit electrified the home crowd. On the next play, senior Oakwood linebacker Michael Kadash intercepted a Larison pass in the end zone, running the ball back to the Lumberjack 24 yard-line with just seconds left on the clock.
The score at halftime was 0-0, and the temperature dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to start the second half.
After a fumble by junior Oakwood wideout Chase Randolph to start the second half, sophomore Lumberjack Steven Sherk would recover a Monroe fumble deep in Oakwood territory.
Jack tailback Cory Carter (11) then converted on two momentous runs, getting the ball into the red zone. Then, halfway through the third quarter, the game’s first points were scored on a 25-yard Oakwood field goal by Koenig, putting the Jacks up 3-0.
The Jack defense, accounting for another stellar stop, forced Monroe to punt from their end zone on the next possession; however, Oakwood freshman Sam Banke mishandled the punt return, and the Hornets would recover to avoid giving Oakwood much-desired field position.
Monroe, upon big pass completions from Larison to wideout Jordan Jones (11), advanced to the Oakwood 23 yard-line, but they would be stopped again by an impenetrable Oakwood defense, failing to complete a pass on 4th down.
To start the fourth quarter, junior Jack running back Sam Falter pushed the ball into Monroe territory before fumbling at midfield, giving the ball back to the Hornets.
However, on a deep Larison pass on the next possession, senior Jack Anton Calaway intercepted the ball in the end zone, running it back to the Oakwood 30 yard-line.
Both Monroe and Oakwood finished with five turnovers on the night.
Later in the fourth quarter, Monroe found an offensive spark on a 60-yard flea flicker pass completion, moving the ball to the Lumberjack 30 yard-line. Soon after the completion, Larison scrambled for a 30-yard touchdown run, putting the Hornets up 6-3. Monroe would miss the extra-point, however, keeping the Jacks close.
With under six minutes left to play, Oakwood took a risk and converted on a fake punt, with Kadash rushing the ball past the first down marker to keep the possession alive.
With time running out, Erbe and the Jack offense executed as well as they have all season. Erbe completed a pass, while falling down, to senior wideout Mason Ellis on third down to get the ball to the Monroe 38 yard-line.
Erbe found Ellis once again on a third down just three plays later, and the two would hook up once more on an Ellis curl-route near the Lumberjack sideline, getting the ball to the Hornet 11 yard-line with just two minutes remaining.
Yet, after much offensive success, the Hornet defense pried the ball loose from Falter, and Monroe took over on offense, deep in their own territory, with less than two minutes remaining.
After another stellar Lumberjack defensive stop, Monroe was forced to punt from their end zone with 48 seconds remaining. Calway returned the ball, juking and bulldozing his way to the Monroe 12 yard-line.
After a sack and a spike by Erbe, Koenig knocked in a field goal with just seven seconds remaining, tieing the game and sending it into overtime.
Oakwood won the coin toss, and elected to start on defense. The Jack defense forced Monroe into an incomplete pass on 4th down, and, after a couple of Carter runs to get the ball to the middle of the field, Koenig came on to try to win the game.
Anxious silence ensued until Koenig kicked the game-winning field goal, and the Oakwood students stormed the field to celebrate with the victorious Lumberjacks.
Oakwood rose to 2-6 with the win, while Monroe dropped to 1-7 in the defeat.
The Lumberjacks’ next game will be this Friday at archrival Bellbrook. The Golden Eagles are 3-5, coming off of a blowout home win over Brookville last Friday.
Kickoff for this Friday’s contest in Bellbrook will be at 7:30 p.m.