NEW WATERFORD, Ohio (WKBN) – The Southern Local defense made two red zone stops on fourth down in the final minutes Friday night to hold on for a 12-7 victory over former ITCL rival, Crestview.
Trailing 12-7 with only a few minutes remaining, the Crestview offense fell just inches short of converting a fourth down but still had an opportunity when the defense forced a Southern punt just three plays later.
“I really thought he had the first down,” Rebels coach Paul Cusick remarked. “We didn’t hold our block long enough on the outside and those are the things that come back and bite you. We have to get better.”
“It was a game of inches,” Indians coach Rich Wright confirmed. “They have a great coaching staff and great players. We made a lot of mistakes. It came down to key plays and our defense stepped up.”
That punt was muffed and the Rebels found themselves with the ball again and a 1st and 10 on the Indians’ 15-yard line. But a stout Indians defense led to a fourth-and-long and a heave that led to an interception in the endzone.
Southern was able to run out the clock on the ensuing possession.
The first quarter certainly belonged to the Indians, specifically the combination of Ryan Exline and Colton Soukop. The two combined for two touchdown passes with Exline connecting with Soukop for scores from 19 and 74 yards to give Southern a 12-0 lead through one.
After the Rebel defense kept a three-score deficit off the scoreboard on a fourth-down stop, the Rebel offense marched 95 yards to put their first score on the board, a Kirtland Miller pass to Mathew Strank to close the gap to 12-7.
“Physically we played hard, against a very physical team,” Wright said. “They (Crestview) have the best defensive line that I have seen in a while. It was an extremely physical game. A lot of tough kids went down (tonight), and they weren’t phantom injuries. It was just contact football.”
Southern was coming off a 42-7 victory over McDonald in week one, while the Rebels were looking to get into the win column after suffering a defeat to Salem.
“They made a couple more plays than us. That’s the bottom line,” Cusick remarked. “That’s what happened last week and that is what happened again this week. Until we figure that out and score some points, our guys have to step up and get it done.”
Get updated high school football scores throughout the season on the WKBN scores page.
Track the latest conference battles on the WKBN high school football standings page.
You can also watch interviews and get player profiles from some of the best players in the Valley by visiting the WKBN Big 22 page.