MIAMI- It may not have been pretty, but the Grove Ridgerunners survived -twice- against a determined Miami Wardog squad in a gritty 15-13 season-opening win.
After a last-ditch drive by Miami moved the ball from their own 14 to the Grove 26, a 46-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired, seeming to give the Ridgerunners the win.
But a roughing the kicker personal foul was called on GHS, moving the ball to the 13 and giving Miami another chance for the win.
Fortunately for Grove, linebacker Trent Phillips was Johnny-on-the-spot, knifing in from the left side and blocking the kick, giving GHS the win for the second time.
Phillips' block underscored a tremendous defensive effort by the Ridgerunners, who were able to contain Miami quarterback Jacob Cheatam just enough to get the two-point victory.
Cheatam accounted for nearly all of the Miami offense, running for 78 yards and throwing for 116.
But what Cheatam did for Miami, senior running back Buck Maples did for Grove.
Not only did Maples run for 63 yards on 23 carries for the night, he also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Chase Manicom for the Ridgerunners' first points of the night midway through the second quarter.
The eight-play, 72-yard drive took three minutes and was saved on two occassions by quarterback Adam Steffenson. On third and 12 from their own 26, Steffenson found Manicom with a sharp pass for a 14 yard gain. Facing another third and 12 from their own 40, Steffenson again converted, finding Brody Scott for another 14 yard gain to keep the drive alive and setting up Maples' pass two plays later.
Steffenson wasn't done after the touchdown. After being unable to handle the snap on the extra point, Steffenson scrambled left and dashed into the end zone for a two-point conversion and an 8-0 Grove lead.
Cheatam and Miami would strike back on the ensuing possession. After initially being stopped by the Ridgerunner defense, a muffed punt gave the Wardogs the ball at the Grove 43.
Two runs by Cheatam covered the distance, the second one from 26 yards out to make the score 8-6.
In what later turned out to be a crucial play, Cheatam was unable to find Rusty Reece in the end zone for the two-point conversion, leaving the Ridgerunners with the lead at halftime.
Grove would extend its lead midway through the third quarter. With Maples churning out yards on the ground, and Steffenson making crucial plays with his arm and his feet, including a six yard run on a third and one, the Ridgerunners covered 53 yards in 11 plays, with Maples cashing in from six yards out. The point after made it 15-6 Grove with 4:45 left in the third.
From there it looked like the Ridgerunners would remain in control, especially after the Grove defense stopped Miami on three straight possessions.
But a misplay on a Grove punt would result in the Wardogs getting the ball at the GHS 25 yard line.
Cheatam would take immediate advantage of the opportunity, finding Sourjohn for a 25-yard touchdown pass, making it 15-13.
On the ensuing drive the Ridgerunners got a 40-yard run by Jarrod Leach on a nifty inside trap play to move inside the Wardog 20.
But the Ridgerunners were unable to convert on a fourth down play, giving MHS the ball at their own 14 with just over two minutes to play.
Cheatam willed the Wardogs down the field, converting a third and 15 and a fourth and nine before running out of time at the Grove 26, setting up the dramatic final scene that allowed Grove to escape with the win.
Now 1-0, the Ridgerunners will host the Jay Bulldogs in their annual battle for Delaware County, which will also be Grove's home opener.
Grove 15, Miami 13
GHS- 0 8 7 0 15
MHS- 0 6 0 7 13
total yards 192 234
rushing 38-107 30-118
passing 8-19-85-1td 14-29-116-1td
1st downs 8 10
pen-yards 3-35 6-45
turnovers 1 (fumble) 3 (3 fumbles)
GHS: Passing- Steffenson 7-17-47. Rushing- Maples 23-63-1td, [number 32], 2-45. Receiving- Manicom 2-45-1td.
MHS: Passing - Cheatam 14-29-116-1td. Rushing - Cheatam 18-78-1td. Receiving - Sourjohn 7-64-1td.
7:52 Grove- Manicom 41 yard pass from Maples [Steffenson run]. 8-0 GHS
4:09 Miami- Cheatam 26 yard run [conversion failed]. 8-6 GHS
4:45 Grove- Maples 6 yd run [Anthony Krause kick]. 15-6 GHS
5:56 Miami- Sourjohn 25 yd pass from Cheatam [kick good]. 15-13 GHS.