It was a very long night of high school varsity football in Clermont County, but Clermont Northeastern finally emerged victorious over Bethel-Tate 20-14 in overtime.
This was a Southern Buckeye Conference thriller played in Bethel.
The Rockets, now 1-1 after the win, drew first blood with 5-minutes and 10-seconds remaining in the first quarter on a run by senior running back Dallas Miracle.
The visiting Blue and Gold made a steady determined drive to the goal line behind the skilled ballcarrying of senior running backs Clay and Chad Cousino and Wright. Senior Taylor Faecher split the uprights for the conversion kick.
The host Tigers ran just three plays before Chad Cousino from his defensive line position recovered a Bethel fumble.
Northeastern owned a 7-0 advantage after the first quarter of play.
The Tigers suffered injuries to several important players early in the second period, but the Red and Gray began to get the offense moving well behind the running of senior running back Zach Mullins. But the passing game was not yet unleashing against a tough Northeastern defense.
Cousino began lugging the pigskin well for CNE again and junior running back Dallas Miracle scored, on a reception from a Derek Schmidt pass . There was 6:24 left in the half. Faecher converted the point after kick again and CNE soon after went into the locker room with a 14-0 lead.
Bethel-Tate senior cornerback Eric Shinkle intercepted a Rocket pass on the 50-yard line with less then two minutes to go in the third quarter. Then he caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Layne Cherry that sets up a pass from the latter to senior wide receiver Matt Small to put the Red and Gray on the scoreboard for the first time with 23.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Senior Jacob Dickhaus’ kick made the score 14-7.
A fumble recovery by Small on Northeastern’s first offensive play thereafter set up the tying TD which was accomplished by Mulliins on a five-yard dash with only a mere two seconds remaining and Dickhaus ties the scoring with his following kick for the extra point.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by a determined Rocket drive to the Tigers’ one-yard line that was stopped with 3:39 to go in the game. Junior linebacker Jon Ward stopped another offensive drive by the Blue and Godl by recovering a fumble and junior safety Austin Iker intercepted a pass to stop yet another, but the Rockets’ offensive was in control most of the closing 12 minutes of regulation time.
The game continued into overtime.
Bethel-Tate had the ball first, but the Clermont Northeastern defense was up to the challenge and halted their hosts offense almost immediately.
Northeastern got its chance to cross the goal line and succeeded on its second play from the line of scrimmage on a run by Clay Cousino.
“Our kids fought hard all the way. Our kids now believe they can be a good football team,” said Jason Conley, head coach of the winners. “They realize they beat a team that has a lot of talent and experience.”
This marked his first-ever varsity football victory as head coach since being in Owensville.
“Our team played hard. It was a tough loss,” said Wayne Stacy, head coach of Bethel-Tate.
Stacy mentioned the turnovers recovered from Northeastern including a fumble recovery by senior lineman David Hammock and added that senior linebacker Derek Torok has made a total of 27 tackles for the season including the 14 made in the disappointing overtime setback.