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Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Fort Recovery gets overtime magic for win over St. John's

By Gary R. Rasberry
FORT RECOVERY - Never say die.
Sounds like the calling card for the Fort Recovery Indians.
Trailing 13-0 after the first quarter, the Indians came back to take the lead, then after St. John's regained the lead in the fourth quarter, tied the game with 21/2 minutes left to force overtime.
St. John's scored first in the extra session, but the Indians got several big plays on their session to score a touchdown, then got a big run-in for two, allowing Fort Recovery to beat the Blue Jays for the first time ever in a 29-28 barnburner at Barrenbrugge Park.
The win puts the Indians at 4-2, the first time since 2000 Fort Recovery has had four wins. The Blue Jays see a two-game win streak snapped in dropping to 2-4.
"We feel that we do a lot of things to give us a chance always in games," said Fort Recovery coach Brent Niekamp. "That's why we run the stuff we run. We always want our guys to feel like they've got a shot.
"Every time we get into one of these situations, I think it helps our kids believe a little bit more. ... Our kids buy into it. They believe it."
Niekamp admitted his team started out a little flat, explaining the quick start by the Blue Jays. Tony Reindel broke several tackles and scored on a 70-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Later quarterback Wes Ulm, who did not play the second half due to a knee injury, scored from 22 yards out in the final seconds of the quarter to make it 13-0 Blue Jays.
Fort Recovery snapped back in the second quarter, as Greg Kahlig found Michael Trobridge on a 14-yard strike with 2:37 left to go in the half to cut it to 13-7. Then at the start of the second half, the Indians went 76 yards on 12 plays, culminating in Kahlig finding Frank Thien for a six-yard score. Mark Mattraw's PAT gave the Indians the lead.
St. John's had trouble moving the ball as the Indians began to slow down the Blue Jay running back. Reindel had 85 yards in the first half, but only had 18 yards the rest of the game.
"Once we woke up, we were fine defensively," said Niekamp.
The Blue Jays finally found a way to score in the fourth quarter as Jay Clark, Ulm's replacement, fired a short pass to Jay Leininger, who broke several tackles and scampered 52 yards for a touchdown with 8:46 left in regulation. Blake Williams' run-in on the conversion make it a 21-14 game.
It looked like the Indians would strike quickly as Kahlig found Toby Metzger deep for what would have been a 90-yard touchdown pass, but Metzger was called for offensive pass interference. Backed up to their own five, Kahlig guided the Indians back on what was a 10-play drive. Another potential touchdown, this time to Wes Kahlig, was flagged for another offensive pass interference, The drive stalled at the Blue Jay 28.
The Tribe defense held and St. John's punted. Kahlig went into a two-minute drill, driving 49 yards in 46 seconds, getting the touchdown on a 15-yard strike to Metzger with 2:31 left in regulation. The PAT was good, tying the game. Neither team could move the ball in their final series of the second half, setting up overtime.
The Blue Jays got first crack and moved the ball quickly. A defensive pass interference got the Blue Jays to the five-yard line, where Reindel busted in for the score. Jordan Rode's PAT was good, forcing the Indians to score and get the kick to send the game into a second overtime.
Fort Recovery had trouble finding the openings on the first two plays. On third-and-10, Kahlig was sacked back at the 21, setting up a fourth-and-11. Kahlig looked for the pass and found Wes Kahlig, who slid in just in time to make the catch at the eight to keep the drive going.
"We were going left and right a lot on our rollouts," said Niekamp. "We were just trying to look a little at our outside post, because those guys (the Blue Jay defense) were running over pretty hard."
After rushing for four yards, Greg Kahlig found Metzger for the final four yards to make it 28-27. The Indians came out to kick, causing St. John's to call timeout to freeze Mattraw. When the teams came back out, Fort Recovery went into two-point formation, forcing the Blue Jays to call another timeout.
The Tribe stayed in the two-point set. Kahlig got the snap and went left, looking for Metzger. With Metzger covered, Kahlig tucked the ball and broke the plane on the goal line, sending the Fort Recovery fans into a frenzy.
"We were thinking about it either way," said Niekamp about going for two. "As soon as it was brought up, I don't think our kids would have let us gone for one. There was no doubt that we were going to get it.
"It was an option. ... He always has that run-pass option. We like that option (with Kahlig) being able to throw to Toby in the corner. Greg's a tough kid, he wasn't going to be held out."
"We're up and down. It was a roller-coaster ride," said Blue Jays coach Todd Schulte. "Our kids stayed in it and answered every call they had to. I was proud of our kids tonight.
"It's a game of inches. They got a few more inches than we could stop."
The game saw several Indians' records fall. Kahlig was 30-of-50 - setting a mark for completions in a game - for a record 374 yards, breaking Metzger's mark of 301 last season. Metzger added a couple of his own, setting the record for receiving yards with 158 on 13 catches, bettering Trobridge's mark last year by one yard. Trobridge added 101 yards on six snags.
Clark was solid for the Blue Jays in relief, going 7-of-9 for 108 yards.
The Indians head east next week, playing undefeated Marion Local at Booster Stadium. The Blue Jays return to Stadium Park Friday to host Anna.
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