BAY VILLAGE — Bay had no shot to make the playoffs heading into the season finale against Midview on Friday night, but the Rockets played like they had everything on the line.
Bay tied the game late in the fourth quarter, but failed to score on its only overtime possession as the Middies escaped with a 36-30 overtime victory at Bay Memorial Stadium.
The victory, coupled with Elyria Catholic’s win over Lakewood, clinched a playoff berth for Midview. The Middies will travel Friday night for a Division II matchup.
“It was a horrible night, especially when you were going into the wind,” Middies coach Bill Albright said. “When we got the wind we were able to take advantage of it and make some things happen. Eddy Johnson had a good night, Brett Bartone ran the ball hard and Eric (Lauer) made some plays in the running game. It was a team victory.”
Junior quarterback Cody Callaway, who was questionable all week with ligament damage in his throwing hand, had a tough time throwing the ball. He completed 10 of 26 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but was able to move his offense on the ground.
Callaway rushed 10 times for 39 yards and scored the winning touchdown from 1 yard in overtime. Bartone led Midview with 51 yards on 10 carries, while Lauer picked up 40 yards in just three carries.
Bay (3-7, 1-6) moved the ball up and down the field on the ground. Junior quarterback Jake Best led the way with a game-high 126 yards on 26 carries, while Ryan Voiers added 83 on 12 carries and Andy Barbour 74 yards on 10.
Barbour scored a pair of touchdowns while Voiers had one.
The Rockets installed a new offense in just a week, running a hybrid of the veer out of a shotgun with two tight ends. Bay finished with 283 rushing yards.
“My hat is off to the Bay Rockets,” Albright said. “What they were able to do in one week, to put that style of offense in in one week, is a tribute to that coaching staff and those young men. They had us backpedaling and did a heckuva job.
“Our kids were able to stay focused, we made some nice adjustments at halftime and came away with a win. We’re proud of the kids and happy for the victory.”
Sophomore Dante Redwood took over the second quarter to give the Middies a lift.
He first set up a 24-yard Brendan Matcham field goal with a 76-yard kickoff return.
Then, with Midview trailing 13-9 and 7:56 remaining in the half, he recovered a Best fumble at the Bay 30. Edd Johnson put the Middies up 16-13 with a 21-yard touchdown run.
Finally, on Bay’s next play from scrimmage, Redwood picked off a Voiers halfback-option pass to set up Midview at the Rockets’ 38 with 6:18 showing on the clock. It took Midview eight plays to cover the 38 yards, with Bartone punching it into the end zone with 3:11 remaining in the half for a 23-13 lead.
“He’s going to be special,” Albright said of Redwood. “He’s only a sophomore and is going to be a special young man.”
Bay would not go away. It scored a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the half to cut the Middies’ halftime lead to 23-20, then took a 27-23 lead late in the third quarter on a 39-yard touchdown run from Barbour.
Midview wrestled the lead back early in the fourth quarter when Callaway found Lauer from 38 yards out to move ahead 30-27, but Alec White connected on a 36-yard field goal, into the wind, with 5:43 left in regulation.
The Middies (9-1, 6-1) had a chance to win in regulation, but Matcham’s 52-yard field-goal attempt fell short. Matcham had hit from 50 yards earlier in the game.
“Bay is a great football team and a lot of people were underestimating them because of their record,” Callaway said. “But they are a great football team with a lot of great athletes and they play very hard. But we were able to get the job done.”
Rockets coach Ryan Gorius wishes his team had a few more games left to play.
“Our kids played hard and we really battled,” he said. “We’re getting better, but it’s just too late in the season. The seniors on this team really improved and are leaving the program in a lot better shape than it was when they got here. I’m so proud of them.”
CLASS ACT: Following the game, Best was inconsolable as he walked around the field with his helmet on. After the coaches talked to their teams, Best jogged over to Midview’s Callaway to congratulate him.
“You played a great game,” he told Callaway. “Good luck in the playoffs … I’ll be rooting for you. It was an honor to play against you.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.