CALDWELL -- Football games can be like boxing matches: Sometimes, they are quick knockouts; sometimes, they are slugfests. Friday's contest on the Noble County Fairgrounds was like a 12 round match decided by a last-second knockout blow as Caldwell High scored on a 47-yard pass from Dylan Sayre to Bobby Snodgrass with 17 seconds left, giving the Redskins a thrilling 20-16 victory over Barnesville.
" They (Barnesville) had a great drive from the one-foot line all the way down," said Redskins' head coach Mike DeVol. "They had four or five fourth downs they converted. Their quarterback (Dalton Smith) is a phenomenal athlete, their running back (A.J. Ritterback) is a great player. We came back from a tough situation and gave everything we have and we scored. That's what football is all about in high school. It's the fans... the cheerleaders... it's the alma mater...it's that social aspect. These kids will be friends until they die and that is more important than winning or losing."
"I thought both teams played very well," stated Barnesville coach Luke Johnson. "We had some offensive opportunities that we should have taken advantage of and we didn't capitalize on them. I thought Caldwell played well."
Barnesville opened with the ball, but stalled after their initial first down. After forcing the punt, Caldwell went on a six-play drive, highlighted by a pass from Sayre to Seth Todd. Todd Capped the drive by bursting up the middle for a 25-yard run for six. Tyler Schockling added the point-after for a 7-0 Redskin lead.
Ritterback took the ensuing kickoff from his 12 to the Caldwell 25, but an illegal block nullified the gain, putting the ball on the Shamrocks' 48. The 'Rocks drove inside the 10-yard line, but couldn't punch it in and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Tyler Kurtz.
After a Caldwell punt, Barnesville was driving to open the second period, but Redskins' junior Cody Morris hit Ritterback in the backfield for a six-yard loss, and, on the next play stopped a screen pass, setting the 'Rocks back up to punt.
After Caldwell punted again, the Shamrocks used a six-play drive on the legs of Ritterback and Smith, with the versatile QB going over the goal line from five yards out. Kurtz's point after sailed wide right, but the visitors were up, 9-7.
The lead was short-lived, though, as the Redskins took advantage of a 41-yard kick return by Adam Rossiter to the Shamrocks' 44. Caldwell mounted a seven-play drive again, finished with Todd breaking the middle, this time from 14 yards out for the score. Schockling's attempt at a two-point pass was high, leaving the score 13-9 headed into half-time.
The third was scoreless as the Shamrocks forced a 'Skins punt at the 1:20 mark. Sayre's punt sailed to the one-foot line, where Morris downed it, but Barnesville took off from there. Smith converted a third down from the two for a 14-yard gain, then found Tim Welch for 11 yards on another third down.
The 'Rocks alternated the run and pass until Smith hooked up with Zack Dornan from 27 yards out, then finding Tre' Greiner for a five-yard score, capping the 17-play 99-yard drive. Kurtz kicked the PAT for a 16-13 lead.
Barnesville had chances to ice the game, starting when Smith picked off Sayre at the 6:06 mark. After not doing anything, the visitors punted, but the punt was muffed and recovered by Kyle Morris. On the next play, Caldwell came to life again with Todd stripping Ritterback, but five plays later Smith picked off Sayre for the third time on the evening.
Caldwell's defense forced a punt, giving the offense the ball with 51 seconds left on their 31 and no timeouts left. After Sayre found Schockling for 22 yards, he threw a pair of incompletions. On third down, he found a streaking Bobby Snodgrass on the right side, who broke two tackles rumbling 47 yards for the game-winner. Snodgrass was true on the PAT and the Shamrocks threw three incomplete passes to end the game.
Smith was excellent on both sides of the ball for Barnesville (2-1), collecting three "picks" on defense, while throwing for 180 yards and a score and rushing for 36 yards and a TD.
Todd finished with 92 yards and two scores for the Redskins (3-0), while Sayre finished with 170 yards passing and a touchdown.
NEXT -- This week, Barnesville visits Buckeye Trail with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday.