By Garth Shanklin
With the swing of a foot, the Goshen Warriors accomplished something no other Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic conference team had done since 2001.
A 25-yard field goal at the buzzer propelled the Warriors to a 33-31 home win over Clinton-Massie on Friday, Oct. 13, the Falcons’ first league loss since 2007 and their first loss to an SBAAC team since 2001.
The Warriors held several leads throughout the game, the first of which came on a three-yard pass from Kyle Proffitt to Payton Leugers with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
Head coach Ryan George said getting on top of a team like Clinton-Massie is key, adding he didn’t really follow any predictions calling for a Falcon victory.
“I felt like all the guys in our locker room felt like we could play with them,” George said. “I don’t know what people were thinking outside the locker room and didn’t really care. It’s always good to get on top early for confidence.”
Goshen led from that point until the 6:09 mark of the second quarter, when Christian Poynter scored on a 53-yard run to tie the game at seven. Less than five minutes later, Poynter scored again, this time on a six-yard run to put the Falcons on top 14-7.
Goshen answered quickly. marching down the field and scoring on a 32-yard pass from Proffitt to Leugers for a touchdown, tying the game with 34 seconds left.
The third quarter started the same way the second one ended: Leugers celebrating a touchdown reception. Proffitt found him for a third time, this one a 25-yard score that gave Goshen a 27-17 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Clinton-Massie cut that lead on Poynter’s third touchdown run of the game. Goshen responded with a field goal to take a 30-24 lead with 4:52 remaining.
Massie answered the call again, scoring on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Corey Stulz to Luke Richardson to go on top 31-30 with 2:25 remaining.
Goshen had one more scoring drive left. On second down, Leugers dove for a pass from Proffitt, hauling it in and picking up 42 yards. Goshen faced third and nine from the 34, then a fourth down from the same area. Logan Mantz caught a Proffitt pass for the first down, moving the ball to the 20. Proffitt and Strunk moved the ball down near the 10 yard-line, and a timeout with four seconds left set up Espinosa Rey’s heroics.
George said he didn’t have to say anything to Espinosa Rey or any of the other special team players.
“Coach [Jake] Ohnmies was out talking to him,” George said.”I just looked down at him and said knock it through, and he gave me a thumbs up. He’s very capable of doing that. [Jake] Tatman does the snapping, [Trey] Armacost does the hold. They have done it all year.”
Goshen finished the game with 472 yards of offense. Proffitt only completed 11 passes in the game, but he racked up 258 passing yards and four touchdowns. Jimmy Strunk carried the ball 21 times for 177 yards, while Leugers led all receivers with four receptions for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Mantz had three catches for 85 yards and a score.
Goshen forced two turnovers, all fumbles, to add to their impressive defensive résumé. On the season, the Warriors have forced 25 turnovers, 13 of which were fumbles. Goshen has thrown just one interception this year, and that formula is something George said has helped the team win games.
“We’ve been like that all year, we’ve created a lot of turnovers,” George said. “We’ve done a good job taking care of the ball. When you do those things your percentages go up as far as winning the game.”
Making plays offensively also helps the percentages, and Goshen’s offensive line played well enough to allow the Warriors to do just that.
“Our offensive line has done a good job all year,” George said. “They’re a veteran bunch and they take pride in that. They’re working hard to get better each day.”
George also noted the team’s fan support against the Falcons was a factor in the game, adding the Warriors’ faithful show up regardless of where the game is.
“It helps tremendously, but our fans travel well,” George said. “We usually take a bus or two to away games. Our fans do a great job being into the game, and after the game getting down on the field and celebrating with us.”
The Goshen fans could be celebrating an SBAAC title, depending on how the final few weeks of the season unfold. The Warriors host Batavia this week, then visit New Richmond for a matchup that could determine not only the league champion but playoff seeding as well. George said the team is not looking past the Bulldogs.
“Batavia’s the next team on the schedule,” George said. “We don’t care about anything else except Batavia. We’re done talking about the Massie game, maybe after the season we can go back and relive some of that.”
Goshen hosts the Bulldogs at Jim Brown Stadium on Friday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.