ADAMS TOWNSHIP — One play for one yard.
That was the offensive output for the Wyoming Cowboys in the third quarter of Saturday’s Division IV, Region 16 championship game.
Wyoming outscored Clinton-Massie 7-3 in the third quarter, which tells the story of the Cowboys’ 28-9 victory.
Wyoming’s defense ended Clinton-Massie’s 47-game streak of scoring at least one touchdown. It was the first time the Falcons had been held to single-digit points since a 28-7 loss to London at the end of the 2018 season.
Clinton-Massie’s offense ran 67 plays to just 26 for Wyoming. The Falcons had the ball for three minutes shy of three full quarters.
It came down to one fumble return and a one-yard touchdown run.
After Clinton-Massie opened the third quarter with a 17-play drive that ended in a Trevor McGuinness field goal, the Falcons had pulled within 14-9.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Wyoming star running back CJ Hester fumbled, and the Falcons recovered at the Wyoming 29.
With all the momentum and poised to take the lead, Clinton-Massie turned to Carson Vanhoose. On his second straight carry, the ball was knocked free. Nathan Glisson picked up the bouncing ball at his own 16 and rumbled to the Massie 1.
“We felt like we could score, take the lead, and capture the momentum of the game,” CM head coach McSurley said. “Unfortunately, we turned it over and they got a big play. It’s amazing how one play can turn the whole sequence and dynamics of the game around.”
Hester redeemed his fumble with a one-yard touchdown run on Wyoming’s only play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
“They had one play (in the quarter),” McSurley said. “That’s how we play. The turnover, and then the return to boot, it was a momentum killer.”
What looked like a potential go-ahead drive for the Falcons was now a two-score game, thanks to one offensive play.
One play for one yard.
For every team, the ultimate goal is a state championship. This was especially true this season with every high school football team eligible for the playoffs.
Despite the season ending Saturday night, it felt like quite the accomplishment for the Falcons to get to the finish line at all.
When historians look back on the year that was 2020, they’ll remember a global pandemic that shut down high school sports in the spring and allowed them to return with strict health protocols in the fall.
Despite several games around the state being ruled a no-contest due to COVID-19, only one game in Region 16 suffered that fate – Wyoming’s playoff opener against Taylor.
Clinton-Massie had one game moved from a Friday to a Monday against Batavia, and came back four days later to defeat New Richmond in a defacto SBAAC American Division championship game. But no games were canceled.
“I’m proud of the kids,” McSurley said. “We had some kids going through quarantine. We overcame all the quarantine.”
Not only was it a tough year for the players dealing with new protocols both in the classroom and on the field, but also for the coaches.
“It’s been very stressful,” McSurley said. “The coaches, they teach. We have two science teachers and a math teacher that’s teaching college-level math. We’re in 100-minute classes. Then my coaches come out here.
“You want to say it’s stress-relieving. When you play (and coach) football for Clinton-Massie, there’s no, ‘Hey, I’m going to go relieve some stress.’ It’s even more stressful. It’s been a very challenging season for everybody.”
MASSIE OR WYOMING, AGAIN
Two of the bluebloods of southwestern Ohio high school football were almost destined to meet in the regional final.
In the last 10 years, the two teams have been the region’s representative in the state semifinals seven times. Three times, either Clinton-Massie or Wyoming were the last team standing as state champions.
The decade began with three Clinton-Massie trips to the state semifinals. Following a loss to Kenton in 2011, the Falcons won back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013.
The decade will end with three straight state semifinal appearances for the Cowboys. Wyoming won the state title to cap a perfect 15-0 season in 2018. Last season, the Cowboys lost to Clyde 42-14 in the state semifinals. Next week Van Wert awaits Wyoming after dispatching Shelby 49-7 Saturday night in the Region 14 final.
Since Clinton-Massie’s playoff qualifying streak started in 2002, Wyoming has only missed the playoffs four times, and three of those times were when the Cowboys moved up to Division III.
And yet, for all of their concurrent success, Saturday’s showdown was only the second matchup between the two teams since 2008. Clinton-Massie defeated Wyoming 28-7 in the 2017 regional championship game.
The two teams met in the first round of the playoffs three straight seasons from 2005-2007, with the Falcons winning all three. Wyoming’s last win against CM was in 2001, a 49-18 win at Frank Irelan Field. That was the last Falcon team to not qualify for the playoffs.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.