CANTON TWP. Louisville quarterback Bobby Swigert, with a badly swollen ankle, was questionable. That meant the Leopards offense was a question mark for Friday’s NBC opener at Canton South.
There will be no questioning the heart of Louisville — or the Wildcats — after the Leopards’ 17-14 last-second victory at Clyde Brechbuhler Stadium.
Jaron Lohmeyer’s 38-yard field goal with 5.9 seconds left capped a crazy comeback that kept top-ranked Louisville unbeaten at 4-0. The Leopards trailed 14-0 in the second quarter after sophomore quarterback Logan Bowles threw touchdown passes to Jerald Robinson and Mark Trissel.
But Louisville refused to wilt under pressure.
The Wildcats’ Jordan Wanner had blocked a Lohmeyer point-after try and a field goal earlier. But with linebackers Jake Adkins and Hunter Potts moved to the edge, Lohmeyer nailed it to cap an 86-yard drive aided by a Canton South defensive holding call four plays earlier.
“I was thinking we were going to push it in,” said Swigert, 27-of-47 for 252 yards and a 14-yard touchdown to Joe Stoffer. “As long as we had protection and they were going to drop back, we were going to pick them apart. I had confidence in my offensive line to protect.”
Adkins, a senior captain, intercepted Bowles’ fourth-and-four pass at the Leopards’ 14 with 2:05 left to start the winning drive. From there Swigert, running back Lucas Poyser and receivers Cody Stocker, Jeremy White and Lee Ferguson made the plays to give Lohmeyer his shot to win it.
Poyser, a sophomore who ran for 115 yards in relief of starter Preston Massey (ankle), gave Louisville hope with a 21-yard run after Adkins’ interception. Those plays, after Trissel had picked Swigert at the goal line and ran it back 59-yards, were huge.
“That was the game,” Louisville head coach Paul Farrah said of his team’s stop. “We held them on fourth down, (Adkins) picked it. Our kids came through.
“With two minutes to go we wanted to see if we could bust a zone (run) and when Poyser had that 21-yarder, we were able to go to our NASCAR, our hurry-up.”
The Leopards’ drive almost stalled out. Swigert had thrown incomplete on fourth-and-nine from the South 35 before the hold gave them life. Lohmeyer made it lethal four plays later.
“I’ll look at the film and see what happened,” said South head coach Moe Daniska. “If it’s defensive holding, it’s defensive holding. But you can’t let penalties dictate a game like that.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t make a couple of plays at the end. We had two balls that we dropped for interceptions. I’m proud of the kids’ effort. It was there. But that doesn’t always win football games.
“You’ve got to go out and make plays.”
South made plays first. Bowles, in South’s second possession, found Jerald Robinson over the middle and the 6-2 speedster did the rest.
Robinson broke two tackles and went 64 yards for a 7-0 lead. Robinson added a brilliant 26-yard, one-handed grab the next possession, then watched Trissel beat Louisville deep for a 30-yard touchdown that made it 14-0.
Backup quarterback Toby Minster made Louisville’s first big play just before halftime. After Swigert was sacked and had to leave, Minster stepped up and found Stocker for a 39-yard touchdown, the highlight of a nine-catch, 135-yard game.
From there the defenses slugged it out. Louisville contained South running back Justin Keith, who had 51 of his 94 yards the first half. South’s zone made Swigert dink-and-dunk, hoping to burn the clock.
Just not enough of it, Daniska said.
“We were sending everything we could at them,” he said. “But when (Swigert) throws a 10-yard out to the field, he’s throwing a 35-yard pass before the receivers make their break. And he’s putting it on the money. He’s a heckuva football player. And he’s got one leg!”
If there was any doubt about their hearts, the Leopards answered them.