It wasn't supposed to happen this way.
Most observers didn't expect Perkins to hang around very long against Clyde last night in their Sandusky Bay Conference machup. The Fliers entered the game as the number one Division III team in the state, and the Pirates had just one win through the first seven weeks of the season.
To view and purchase photos from the game, click HERE
Instead of just hanging around, the Pirates stunned the Fliers in overtime 20-17 behind a determined offense and a defense that came up with five interceptions and a blocked field goal. It turned the tables for Clyde's 27-13 win against then-unbeaten Perkins a year ago.
Senior running back Richard Hohler, who began the night averaging more than 90 yards a game on 4.3 yards a carry, was held to just 22 yards on 11 attempts in regulation. But with the game on the line and the Pirates (2-6, 2-3) trailing 17-14 in the overtime, he pounded his way across the goal line from three yards out for the game-clinching score.
The loss was just the second in the last four season in league play for the Fliers, who are 24-2 in the SBC since 2007.
Jordan Colson kicked a 39-yard field goal to start the overtime session after Perkins decided to play defense first. Hohler then took it to the Flier defense for 17 yards on four tries, putting up runs of six and eight yards for a first and goal on the 6-yard line.
After Clyde (7-1, 4-1) was whistled for 12 men on the field, the Pirates had the ball on the three. Stopped for no gain, Hohler took the ball again from quarterback Brandon Smith and bulled his was into the endzone to set off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands.
"Our offensive co-ordinator and running backs coach Jeremy Blakely told our fullback Tyson Moore and me, 'You are my guys, I'm going to put the game on your backs. You can do it.' " Hohler said. "I can't believe we beat the No. 1 team in the state. We are not a 1-6 team."
"This is the best feeling I've ever had," he said, adding that the Perkins student section was waiting near the field to celebrate as the overtime drive progressed. "We said in the huddle, 'Look at the student section.' We were ready for this win."
It almost didn't happen.
Down 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, Perkins had a third and 2 on its own 24-yard line. Smith dropped back to pass and lofted a perfectly thrown ball to Evan Laser who caught it at midfield and outran the Clyde defender to paydirt. Smith then found Mitchell Benkey for the two-point conversion to tie it at 14-14.
The fireworks weren't done, though, as the teams then traded back-to-back interceptions before Clyde was able to set up for a 29-yard field goal attempt with under a minute to play. Michael Ebert, who scored the Pirates first touchdown on a 20-yard reception, blocked the kick, but the ball ricocheted back to a Clyde player who got just enough yardage for a first down.
The Fliers could only move the ball two yards, and on third down tried a 26-yard field goal, but Colson's attempt was wide left, setting up the overtime. The momentum was now on the Pirates side and they took advantage of it for the win.
"I am so proud of our guys, they never gave up," said Perkins coach Jason Ziegler. "We had the opportunity at halftime to hang our heads down 14-0, but I saw in their eyes they believed we could win.
"We talked about what a great opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the state. We believe in our seniors, who have worked their butts off. We've been in every game we've played, and we've had opportunities all year. The difference tonight was we were not looking at how not to lose but how we're going to win."
The Pirates outgained the Fliers 274-226, and intercepted Clyde quarterback Ryan Meyer five times. Laser and Caleb Balduff each had two picks, while Josh Gerold added the other. Smith finished the night 17-of-26 for 238 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
"Give (Perkins) credit, they came out ready to play," said Clyde coach Marc Gibson, adding that his team did not suffer a letdown after gaining the No. 1 ranking. "We had a great week of practice. If you had told me early in the week that we would not play on all cylinders, I'd have called you a liar."
"Those guys in black were fired up and ready to go more than we were," Gibson added. "You can't take anything away from the opponent. When you miss something in all three phases, you should lose. If we had been able to win this, we didn't want it. They earned it. Coach Ziegler told me 'We needed that one.' That's what they had to hang their hat on. They deserve the credit."
Clyde 7 7 0 0 3 -- 17
Perkins 0 0 6 8 6 -- 20
C -- Mac Wilkerson 44 pass from Ryan Meyer (Jordan Colson kick)
C -- Meyer 1 run (Colson kick)
P -- Michael Ebert 20 pass from Brandon Smith (kick failed)
P -- Evan Laser 76 pass from Smith (Mitchell Benkey pass from Smith)
P -- Richard Hohler 3 run
First Downs 12 9
Rushes-Yards 43-98 19-36
Passing-Yards 128 238
Comp-Att-Int 7-24-5 17-26-3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 4-23 5-30
Clyde -- Gabe Gilbert 24-61, Meyer 5-(-7), Brad Smitt 1-3, Kalob Andrews 7-17, Colson 5-29, Blain MacFarland 1-(-5). Perkins -- Hohler 15-39, Mitchell Benkey 1-(-2), Austin Sparks 1-(-1), Josh Gerold 1-1, Smith 2-(-2).
Clyde -- Meyer 24-7-5-1. Perkins -- Smith 26-17-3-2.
Clyde --Justin Radloff 1-15, Wilkerson 3-67, Andrews 2-31, Colson 1-15. Perkins -- Caleb Balduff 2-43, Hohler, 2-(-5), Michael Ebert 5-54, Evan Laser 3-90, Brett Haeuptle 1-6, Benkey 3-48, Tyson Moore 1-2.