Days later, and it is still a mystery.
Not since Kettering Alter ended Clinton-Massie’s season a year ago had a team held as dominant a statistical edge over the Falcons as John Glenn did a week ago.
However, it’s the Little Muskies rolling out the basketballs and wrestling mats this week, while the Falcons play for a third state title against Steubenville.
John Glenn outgained Clinton-Massie 415 to 189. The Falcons ran just 48 plays on offense, compared to 71 by the Little Muskies. Clinton-Massie lost the turnover battle, 3-2, and had more penalty yardage (60-55).
Clinton-Massie was a staggering 1 for 12 on third down.
So how did the Falcons win?
“Good teams lose by a little and great teams find a way to win,” CM halfback Weston Trampler said. “I feel like John Glenn prepared really well for everything that we did. We just played with a really good intensity in the second half.”
Even with a strong second half, Clinton-Massie still could have lost the game. John Glenn had every chance to win.
How did the Falcons do it?
In the end, there are at least three factors that determined the outcome of this game, in spite of the statistical disadvantage the Falcons faced.
First, John Glenn had two seemingly great coaching decisions blow up in its face.
The first one came after the Little Muskies scored to take a 21-14 lead with 56.7 seconds left in the third quarter. Clinton-Massie was whistled for a personal foul, meaning John Glenn would kick off from the Falcon 45.
John Glenn had all the momentum. Even the most confident Falcon fans were feeling uneasy.
“There were a couple of times in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘Man, we’re screwed!’” Trampler said. “But, our defense kept playing, and I know Luke (Richardson) had a couple big plays.”
What would the Little Muskies do on the kickoff? Would they onside kick? Would they just pound the ball through the endzone for a touchback? They took what seemed to be the smart option – a perfectly placed pooch kickoff that was returned from the 5-yard line.
However, they kicked it to Richardson (more on him later).
The shifty CM senior darted through the densely-packed sea of humanity and nearly went the distance. He was dragged down at the John Glenn 25.
John Glenn’s defense did its best to keep Massie out of the endzone, stopping the Falcons on third and goal from the 8. However, a penalty marker was thrown. This led to the second seemingly good decision gone bad.
It was holding on the Falcons. Decline it, and Clinton-Massie has a decision to make on fourth and goal from the 6.
McSurley had made his decision.
“I thought they were going to decline that,” McSurely said. “I really did. I was prepared at that time … we were going to go ahead and kick the field goal.
“When they took the penalty, in hindsight, they maybe regret that a little bit.”
Knowing the Falcons had a strong kicking game, John Glenn accepted the penalty and pushed Massie back to the 20. A sack on third down made it fourth and goal from the 25.
Then, Luke Richardson happened again.
Corey Stulz found him, he found the endzone, and the game was tied with 8:41 to go. It was a well-designed play that required execution from more than just Richardson and Stulz.
“Seth Schmidt took their defense … he was the decoy,” McSurley said. “Here you have a 6-foot-6 tight end decoying, and Luke just ran in man coverage and they couldn’t keep up with him.”
The second factor that decided the game was John Glenn’s inability to finish long drives.
Clinton-Massie scored a touchdown on all three drives it had in which the Falcons gained at least two first downs.
“We made big plays at the right time,” CM linebacker Trey Uetrecht said. “Our offense came through at the right time, and our defense came through at the right time.”
Meanwhile, John Glenn had two drives which had three first downs each, only to fail to score points. The first ended on a Little Muskie fumble, and the second ended when Justin Heacock’s Hail Mary fell incomplete in the back of the endzone to end the game.
Those two drives accounted for 107 of John Glenn’s 415 yards, and zero points.
The final factor was Luke Richardson.
“Number 2 had a lot to do with it,” McSurley said. “I thought he had one of the most phenomenal high school football games I’ve ever witnessed as a coach in 32 years.”
In addition to the kickoff return and the fourth-and-25 touchdown, he also had the game-winning pick-six with 5:59 left. He also caught a 31-yard touchdown in the first quarter to open the scoring.
“You have captains that say things to get you fired up, and you have captains that do things to get you fired up,” Richardson said. “I love getting people on their feet going crazy.”
No word on whether he sold popcorn at halftime. He did everything else Friday night, refusing to let his team’s season end in Hilliard.
“It was just our will to win,” Richardson said. “You could tell (John Glenn) wanted it bad, but there was no way we were going to leave there without a win. We worked way too hard.”
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton
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