Late field goal sinks Rebels

Mike Landis

It was only fitting that a Week 7 showdown between unbeaten, state-ranked rivals came down to the closing seconds.

Princeville's Colton Godfrey lined a 21-yard field goal through the uprights with 10 seconds remaining to give the ninth-ranked Princes a 10-7 win over fifth-ranked Stark County.

Godfrey's clutch kick capped a night where Princeville dominated everything but the scoreboard.

“I thought we were beaten pretty bad, worse the 10-7,” said Rebels head coach Jade Noard. “The stat sheets are pretty ugly. They really controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”

Neither team could muster any points in the opening half, but Princeville knocked on Stark County's door several times. On their first two drives the Princes drove to Stark County's six-yard line and 20-yard line, only to see the Rebels rise to the occasion on defense.

Meanwhile, Stark County's offense managed just two first downs in the first half and never crossed midfield. 

“Our defense kept it from being ugly,” said Noard, “and kept giving us opportunities. We just weren't able to take advantage of them. It seemed like it was third-and-10 every series.”

The Princes grabbed the lead on the opening drive of the second half. The visitors marched 67 yards in just seven plays, capped by a 14-yard touchdown run from Jacob Meischner. Godfrey added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 7:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Tanner Ewing gave the Rebels a spark on the ensuing kickoff, returning it to the Princeville 34-yard line. Two plays later, Greg Daum lofted a 34-yard TD pass to Calvin Lewis to put the Rebels on the board. Lewis added the PAT kick to tie the game 7-7 at the 6:47 mark.

The Princes marched deep into Stark County territory midway through the fourth quarter, but Meischner put the ball on the turf and the Rebels recovered at their own four. The Stark County offense went three-and-out and punted the ball away, and the Princes set up shop at the Rebels' 31-yard line with 2:12 to play.

A holding penalty pushed Princeville back to the 37, but an 11-yard pass play from Drew Martin to Carter Oltman and a 12-yard run by Oltman gave the Princes first down at SC's 14. Runs by Meischner and Oltman put the ball on the four-yard line as the visitors burned the final timeout with 14 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Godfrey's game-winning boot.

While the margin of victory was slim, Princeville owned the statistical battle. The Princes had 15 first downs to four for Stark County, and outgained the Rebels 306 to 113. Princeville had 298 yards on the ground as Martin finished with 107, Meischner with 87 and Oltman with 80.

“We tried about everything that we have, formation wise, but they had the answer for it,” said Noard. “You tip your hats to them. It was 10-7, but they had a heck of a lot more opportunities than we did.”

Stark County has the opportunity to ease the sting of their first loss with a West Prairie Trail Conference Northwest Division title. The Rebels travel to Elmwood-Brimfield Friday and host Aledo-Westmer Oct. 24 in a likely battle for division supremacy.

 “You always talk about one game just being one game, but this one really is just one game,” said Noard of the loss. “It's not in the conference, so we have to be able to rebound and still achieve some things.”