By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
TIPP CITY — It was another milestone in the amazing coaching career of Piqua football coach Bill Nees as he picked up his 200th career win.
And it came in another classic battle between the Indians and Tippecanoe Friday night.
But, immediately after Piqua’s 28-14 win over the Red Devils, thoughts were with Tippecanoe junior running back Nick Shirley.
With Piqua leading 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Shirley caught a pass from Tipp quarterback Troy Taylor.
He took a big hit inside the Piqua 20 on the play and Tanner Kemp recovered the fumble inside the five-yzard line and returned it near midfield with 1:27 remaining.
Shirley was down on the field for 15 minutes before being taken off a stretcher.
“Obviously, we hope (Nick Shirley) is OK,” Nees said.
Tippecanoe coach Matt Burgbacher had the same thoughts.
“You know, it is a physical game,” he said. “Sometimes, things happen.”
When play resumed, Makeegen Kuhn had 51-yard run down to the Tippecanoe one-yard line and Jerell Lewis scored his third touchdown to put Piqua up 28-14 with 1:07 to go to seal the win.
The Piqua band, along with the Indians players and coaches honored Nees after the game as he improved to 200-94 in his career.
It also kept Piqua’s playoff hopes alive.
The Indians, 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the MVL, play at Troy Friday to close the season.
The Trojans are 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the MVL after a 24-22 loss to Xenia.
“I am happy (to get win 200),” Nees said. “But, every week is another game. As it turns out, win 201 will be the big one.”
Burgbacher, in his first season Tippecanoe after a successful four-year run at Troy and success at Fort Loramie, was again proud of the heart his team showed throughtout the game.
“I am really proud of the kids,” Burgbacher said. “They go out and play hard every week and they did again tonight. This kind of feels like my first year at Troy. We have got the culture in place, which is the big thing.”
And until the very end, it was a battle all night — with both teams making big plays throughout the first half that finished in a 14-14 deadlock.
After an uncharacteristic missed field goal by Ben Sauls from 32 yards, Piqua put together an 80-yard drive to start a 28-point explosion by the teams in the second quarter.
Medley had a 20-yard run on the drive and Kuhn had a 16-yard jaunt to set up a 6-yard scoring run by Lewis. Jackson Trombley’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 7:12 remaining in the first half.
The lead didn’t last long.
Tipp’s Griffin Caldwell returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to the Piqua three-yard line and Cade Beam ran it in from three yards out. Sauls kick made it 7-7 with 6:55 remaining in the half.
On their next possession, Tipp put together a four-play 50-yard drive to take the lead.
Jackson Subler threw 37 yards to Jason Rindler and two plays later, Beam ran it in from 11 yards out and Sauls kick made it 14-7 with 3:55 remaining in the half.
Just like Piqua, Tipp didn’t hold the lead long.
After a touchback on the kickoff, it took Piqua just 13 seconds to tie the game.
Jasiah Medley went 80 yards for the score and Trombley’s PAT kick tied it 14-14 with 3:42 to go in the half.
“That run really hurt us,” Burgbacher said.
After an interception by Subler late in the first half, Tipp had a chance to score on the final play of the half.
Sauls 56-yard field goal attempt had the distance, but was just wide.
Piqua opened the second-half, going 80 yards in 10 plays.
Lewis had a 21-yard run to convert a third-and-six, Kuhn had an 11-yard run to the three and Lewis scored from one-yard out.
Trombley’s PAT kick made it 21-14 with 6:44 remaining in the third quarter.
After that, both teams put drives together in the second half, but neither could score again — setting up a crazy finish.
“I thought we played really well at times,” Nees said. “You just never know how a game is going to go.”
“This was just one of those games,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen.”
Medley led the Piqua rushing attack with 11 carries for 120 yards.
Kuhn had seven carries for 85 yards, Lewis had 10 carries for 64 yards and Kemp had 12 carries for 64 yards.
Lance Reaves-Hicks led the defense with six tackles, while Damien Lawson and Kemp had five each and Lewis had two sacks.
Beam led the Tipp rushing attack with 14 carries for 55 yards.
Taylor and Subler combined to complete 13 of 26 passes for 153 yards, with Shirley making six catches for 52 yards.
Tyler Carson had nine tackles for the Tipp defense, while Lawson Cook and Nick Robbins each had seven and Beam had two sacks.
Tipp will close the regular season Friday against Butler, while Piqua will go to Troy looking to make win 201 even bigger than 200 for Nees.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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