LEES CREEK — If college coaches don’t already know about Minford freshman kicker Myles Montgomery, they’re going to find out soon enough.
The freshman booted a 31-yard field goal with 6.3 seconds remaining Saturday as the Falcons defeated East Clinton 16-14.
It was the thrilling conclusion to what had been a sleepy affair until the final four minutes of the game.
Minford led 7-6 but was forced to punt with 3:46 remaining from its own 46. Jeffrey Pica’s punt was muffed by the Astros, and the Falcons recovered at the EC 12.
Two plays later, Devin Parker finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Montgomery’s extra point was missed, however. Minford’s lead was 13-6, with 3:33 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, EC returner Glenn Peacock scooped up the rolling kick at his own 12 and broke contain for a 57-yard return to the Minford 31.
A pair of Jared Smith runs, and a Smith completion to Jaden Singleton moved the Astros inside the Minford 10. However, Smith overthrew Singleton in the end zone on 3rd and 9 from the Minford 9 with 39.3 seconds left.
Down to its final chance, Smith tossed to Landon Runyon over the middle on fourth down for a nine-yard touchdown pass. EC trailed 13-12 and decided to go for the two-point conversion.
After a timeout, Smith and Runyon would connect again, this time in the right flat. Runyon crossed the goal line, and EC led 14-13 with 35.5 seconds remaining.
Minford answered East Clinton’s stellar kick return with one of its own.
Trenton Zimmerman took the ensuing kickoff from his own 17 down the Minford sideline to the East Clinton 20. The 63-yard return gave the Falcons the ball in the red zone with 23 seconds left.
Following two incompletions, Parker would keep the ball on third down and run for five yards to the 15, and more importantly, right in the middle of the field.
Minford took its final timeout with 10.2 seconds left, then sent in the field goal unit. Montgomery made up for his PAT miss with a perfect 31-yard field goal to give the Falcons the 16-14 lead.
East Clinton had one final chance, but good tackling kept the Astros from starting a hook-and-lateral play, which ended the game.
Pica led the offensive surge for the Falcons in the second half with 116 yards rushing and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Minford showed some rust in the first half, which was unsurprising for a team that had spent time quarantined over the last two weeks. Last week’s game with Washington was deemed a no-contest, and the matchup with East Clinton was pushed back a day to allow the Falcons an extra day to prep.
Jared Smith had 123 yards passing and two touchdowns to go with 61 yards rushing. The difference in the game was three Astro fumbles, two of which occurred with the team driving deep in Minford territory.
Now 3-1 on the season, Minford opens up conference play at home against Wheelersburg next week. The Pirates are 2-3 after losing in overtime Friday night at Jackson, 21-20.
East Clinton begins conference play with the reigning division champions, Bethel-Tate. The Tigers are 3-1 on the season and are coming off an 82-0 win over Batavia Friday night.
Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021
At East Clinton High School
Minford 16, East Clinton 14
EC – Jared Smith 18-yard pass to Landon Runyon (kick blocked) 5:19
M – Jeffrey Pica 3-yard run (Myles Montgomery kick) 4:21
M – Devin Parker 4-yard run (kick failed) 2:43
EC – Smith 9-yard pass to Runyon (Smith to Runyon good) 35.5
M – Montgomery 31-yard field goal 6.3
PLAYS: M 52; EC 47. FIRST DOWNS: M 12; EC 11. RUSHES-YARDS: M 38-106; EC 28-78. PASSING YARDS: M 68; EC 123. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: M 4-14-1; EC 11-19-0. TOTAL YARDS: M 174; EC 201. PENALTIES-YARDS: M 4-45; EC 5-40. FUMBLES-LOST M 3-0; EC 4-3.
Rushing (carries-yards): M Jeffrey Pica 21-116 TD; Devin Parker 10-34 TD; Ethan Conally 1-4; Randall Schreick 2-1. EC Jared Smith 19-61; Brody Fisher 6-15; Glenn Peacock 3-2.
Receiving (catches-yards): M Trenton Zimmerman 1-47; Jeffrey Pica 2-18; Ethan Conally 1-3. EC Jaden Singleton 5-59; Landon Runyon 5-53 2 TD; Brody Fisher 1-11.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): M Devin Parker 4-14-1 68 yards. EC Jared Smith 11-19-0 123 yards 2 TDs.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.