PIQUA — Piqua football coach Bill Nees couldn’t have known how his Indians handled the bye week in the first round of the playoffs until they took the field Friday night.
He needn’t have worried.
“It was good. We handled it well. Actually, I wasn’t sure if we handled it well … until we played,” Nees said.
Piqua’s first two touchdown runs came on fourth-down plays, Ca’Ron Coleman and Brady Ouhl both ran for two touchdowns and Piqua’s defense allowed only 46 yards in the first half as the third-seeded Indians routed No 14 Harrison 42-7 Friday night at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field in the second round of the Division II, Region 8 playoffs.
The Indians (7-0), who won their first playoff game since a 21-9 victory over Toledo Central Catholic in 2007, advance to face No. 6 Anderson, which defeated No. 11 Teays Valley 52-14 Friday night in another second-round game. Harrison, meanwhile, falls to 2-6.
“We should have made the playoffs the last two years, so it feels real good to get this win,” Coleman said. “Now we’re on to the next one.
“It was a little strange (having a bye week). We always want to play. But we tried to use it to our advantage, rest up and get a gameplan together.”
“We got some great conditioning in — a lot more than we normally do — we got some great work in the weight room in, and we had two or three starters that came back from injuries that were able to play tonight that probably wouldn’t have been able to play if we played last Friday,” Nees said.
Piqua took the game’s opening possession 65 yards in 10 plays, converting two third downs along the way but facing a fourth-and-1 from the Harrison 4-yard line. Tanner Kemp took a handoff up the middle, though, and fought his way into the end zone to put the Indians up 7-0 with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The defense shut the Wildcats down on the other end, and a short punt gave the ball back to the Indians on Harrison’s 41. Ca’Ron Coleman converted two fourth downs on the ensuing possession, the first a short fourth-and-2 from the 33. Four plays later, the Indians faced fourth-and-1 on the 16, and Coleman broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and outran the rest of the defense for a 16-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-0 with 1:55 left in the first.
“With our offense, we always try to be pretty aggressive,” Nees said. “And with the offensive line we have, with some pretty big guys — especially right at the tip of the spear with the center and two guards — we don’t hesitate too much going for it on fourth and short.”
“We’ve got a good offense, and we just didn’t want to waste those opportunities,” Coleman said.
After another Harrison punt, the Indians finally faced a fourth down they couldn’t convert on after an incompletion on fourth-and-10 from the Wildcat 25. But the Piqua defense forced a turnover on downs at the 34, and four plays later Coleman broke a 23-yard touchdown run to give the Indians a 21-0 lead with 6:17 remaining in the first half. The teams then traded punts until Piqua took over at the Harrison 36, and quarterback Brady Ouhl saw an opening in the line, scrambled through and then raced to a 36-yard touchdown run to give the Indians a 28-0 lead with :40 on the clock, and that’s where things stood at halftime.
The Indians didn’t waste any time after the break, either. After forcing Harrison to punt, Dre’Sean Roberts took a shovel pass from Ouhl around the right side and turned up the field for a 30-yard touchdown run that made the score 35-0 with 8:32 left in the third quarter, turning on the running clock per the OHSAA’s mercy rule. And after another Wildcat three-and-out, Ouhl finished off a seven-play, 40-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to put Piqua up 42-0 with 1:23 left in the third.
Harrison’s Mason Young threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ben Smith during mop-up time with 48 seconds remaining in the game, preventing the Indian defense from posting its fourth shutout in the past five games — but the Indians will be continuing their playoff run next week.
In the end, the Indians allowed 127 yards of total offense with most of those coming after the running clock was turned on. The late touchdown was also the first scored on Piqua’s defense since Week 2’s win over Butler.
“They played well again tonight,” Nees said of the defense. “They run to the ball really well, we got a couple turnovers and they really have things rolling. And we’re now 14 deep with Lance Reaves-Hicks back and Bryson Roberts and Garrett Schrubb getting time in. We have 14 people that we consider starters on defense right now, so nobody’s going to get tired.”
Offensively, Piqua spread the ball around, piling up 327 yards of total offense. Bryson Roberts led the team in rushing with 66 yards on 10 carries, Coleman finished with 58 yards and two scores on seven carries, Ouhl had 50 yards and two scores on three carries and Kemp finished with 28 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Ouhl was also 6 for 12 passing for 135 yards and the touchdown pass to Roberts, who finished with 35 yards on three catches. Blane Ouhl added a 40-yard reception, Jerell Lewis had a 35-yarder and Cory Miller a 25-yarder.
“A lot of good things happened for us tonight. But there’s always a ton to get better at,” Nees said.
Piqua will host Anderson Oct. 23 in the regional quarterfinal round.