After some chilly, rainy weather earlier in the week, Friday’s weather was beautiful for the Miami Trace High School Homecoming football game against Chillicothe.
Homecoming Queen Megan Manns and King Alexander McCarty and the Homecoming court were introduced prior to the Frontier Athletic Conference opener in the sixth week of the 2021 season.
It turned out to be a thrilling game, as the Panthers won 35-28, in overtime.
It was a huge rebound from last week, Miami Trace head coach Jerry Williams explained.
“We needed to start out 1-0 in the conference,” Williams said. “This week we talked about turnovers, keeping our composure.
“It was a program win,” Williams said. “It was a team win all the way around. I can’t say enough about an overtime fourth and goal stand at the end. That says a lot about our character. What a huge rebound from last week.
“It says that this team is finally making the turn,” Williams said. “We needed a program win like this. Chillicothe is a good football team. It was a typical Chillicothe team, big up front and very athletic.
“We had guys go down, but we had other guys step up,” Williams said. “I’m very happy about that more than anything.
“Weston Melvin is such a good player, such a competitor,” Williams said of the Miami Trace senior quarterback. “You see that on the wrestling mats. In everything he does, he competes. I give him so much credit. And our offensive line took over tonight.”
It was an excellent start to the game for the Panthers as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
The Panthers took the opening kick and drove to the Chillicothe 7-yard line where quarterback Weston Melvin passed to Garrett Guess for the game’s first score, capping a nine-play drive.
Zachary Warnock’s kick gave Miami Trace a 7-0 lead at the 9:41 mark of the first quarter.
Chillicothe fumbled on their first possession, the ball recovered by Miami Trace’s Garrett Smith.
The Panthers struck quickly with a pass from Melvin to Ashton Connell for a 38-yard touchdown down the middle of the field.
Warnock’s kick gave the Panthers a 14-0 with 8:18 to play in the quarter.
Chillicothe had the ball at its own 20-yard line for their second possession and took it down to score on a 1-yard run by quarterback Mason Doughty.
The extra-point kick was good by Isaac Crawford to make it 14-7 with 5:16 to play in the first quarter.
The Panthers had to punt on their next possession and then Chillicothe lost a second fumble at the Miami Trace 17-yard line. The Panthers moved the ball out near mid-field where they had to punt again.
The teams exchanged punts before Chillicothe tied the game with 4:22 to play in the first half.
The score was a 3-yard run by Maxwell Lee, followed by the kick from Crawford.
The game remained tied at the half.
Melvin had a 5-yard run to put the Panthers back into the lead, 20-14 with 9:50 to play in the third quarter.
Warnock’s kick gave the Panthers a 21-14.
Chillicothe responded with a 29-yard pass from Mason Doughty to Isaac McCory at the 6:30 mark of the third quarter.
The Panthers suffered their first turnover of the game with a fumble at the Chillicothe 40-yard line.
Chucky Thomas scored on a 53-yard run with 8:03 to play in regulation, giving the Cavaliers their first lead of the game.
Crawford’s kick made it 28-21.
Asher LeBeau plunged through the line and into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, and with Warnock’s kick, the game was tied, 28-28 with 3:17 to play.
Chillicothe had a chance to win the game as they attempted a 42-yard field goal with five seconds to play. The kick was close but went wide right, sending the game into overtime.
Miami Trace had the ball first in overtime and Asher LeBeau scored on a 2-yard run. Warnock’s kick made it 35-28.
On Chillicothe’s turn in overtime, the Cavaliers were moved back to the 31-yard line, where it was third down and goal to go.
Chillicothe completed a pass down to the 1-yard line.
It was looking like a second overtime round was in the offing, but the Panthers’ defense held on a play that will be long remembered, denying the Cavaliers and sealing the exciting 35-28 victory
Miami Trace (4-2 overall, 1-0 FAC) will play at Hillsboro next Friday.
Chillicothe will play at Gardner Park against the Washington Blue Lions next Friday.