WADSWORTH â€” It turns out Cloverleafâ€™s football team has a home away from home at Art Wright Stadium.
Using a stunning passing offense and a hard-nosed defense, the Colts upset the previously unbeaten Grizzlies 23-14 on their home field.
Once again, Cloverleaf fans partied well past the final whistle, as Friday marked the second time in a row the Colts (5-1, 2-1) beat the Grizzlies (5-1, 2-1) in Wadsworth and brought the Game Ball Trophy back to Westfield Township.
â€œThis is the biggest moment of my life,â€ Cloverleaf defensive back Russ Piper said. â€œItâ€™s amazing, one of the best feelings of my life. Iâ€™ll remember it forever.â€
That wonâ€™t be hard for Piper, who had a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the rest of the Colts.
Trailing 14-7 in the third quarter, Cloverleaf scored 16 unanswered points in the final frame to put away Wadsworth and grab some much-needed playoff points in Division II, Region 6.
The Colts absolutely stoned the Grizzlies, holding a team that averaged 408.0 yards a game to 197 while keeping Dru Jones (23 carries, 89 yards) out of the end zone for the first time all season.
But it was more than just Cloverleaf stopping Jones at every turn. Anthony Schrock did score for the Grizzlies, but made just one other catch and was held to 35 yards, while Scott Saylor (6-of-17, 98 yards) was picked off twice.
â€œWe came out and put it all out on the field,â€ said Cloverleaf defensive end Justin Marrs, who finished off the Grizzlies with a sack. â€œWe have no regrets. Itâ€™s a rivalry game and itâ€™s big. Itâ€™s the greatest feeling Iâ€™ve ever had.â€
Â What felt good for one felt bad for another. Jonesâ€™ longest run was 12 yards and he finished the evening averaging 3.9 per carry, well below his 7.0 average coming in.
The Grizzlies picked up just six first downs after intermission and went three-and-out on two of their three fourth-quarter possessions.
â€œThey just played harder than we did,â€ Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said. â€œThey played hard on every play and never gave up on anything. They came ready to play. We didnâ€™t.â€
The turning point came early in the fourth when Cody Roberts (14-of-18, 169 yards, 2 TDs) hit Taylor Riggs on a 14-yard slant for what looked like a game-tying touchdown.
Dustin Connor missed the extra point to leave the Colts down 14-13, but the tide had turned.
â€œThat one moved the momentum back in our favor,â€ an emotional Riggs said. â€œWe just got stuff rolling after that and kept it going.â€
The shell-shocked Grizzlies couldnâ€™t take advantage of a Cloverleaf unsportsmanlike penalty after the missed extra point and went three-and-out.
Cloverleaf marched 56 yards in eight plays to take its first lead of the game when Connor made up for his missed one-pointer with a field goal from 27 yards out with 7:40 remaining.
Three plays after that, Piper jumped an out route by Schrock and went in untouched to seal the win at the 6:25 mark.
â€œTwo years ago, we were trying to build a program when we won here,â€ Cloverleaf coach Kevin Gault said. â€œBut thatâ€™s a great team we just beat.
â€œIâ€™ve coached at eight different high schools but have never had hard-nosed kids like I do here. They earned this one.â€