HAMLER — Patrick Henry entered Friday’s Northwest Ohio Athletic League game knowing a win over Delta would confirm its spot in this year’s state tournament.
With five wins and a matchup with unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Division VI Archbold looming in the regular season finale next week, the Patriots desperately needed a win.
Despite a misty haze floating through the stadium all evening, Patrick Henry dominated the first quarter with a tone-setting punch that it rode to a 12-0 NWOAL win over the Panthers at Patrick Henry High School.
“Our goal was to get on top of them to get them out of their game plan. I couldn’t have been happier with the first quarter and a half. Couldn’t have been happier,” Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann said.
“We knew that if we won this game, we’re 100% in the playoffs. And now we’ve even got a decent chance that we could host.”
The Patriots forced Delta, which had scored the third most points this season among all eight NWOAL schools, into a three-and-out on each of its first two possessions.
Patrick Henry, which improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the NWOAL, responded to each defensive stand with scoring drives.
Faced with a fourth-and-five inside the red zone on its first drive, PH opted to go for it. Nash Meyer tossed one of his game-high 10 completions to Mason Schwiebert down the seam to bring PH inside the 5. Meyer capped the drive with a one-yard scoring run.
“Mason Schwiebert had one of the biggest plays of the game,” Inselmann said. “A beautiful catch on the tight end drag.”
Meyer connected with Landon Johnson for a 35-yard touchdown, again on a pass through the seam, to take a 12-0 lead as the first quarter ended.
Johnson, who finished with 93 yards receiving and a score on five receptions, broke the PH record for the regular season receptions in a season late in the third quarter. Johnson broke Marc Krauss’ record of 52 regular-season receptions set in 2005.
Meyer, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 118 yards, tied the PH record for regular-season completions in a season. Meyer also led the PH ground game with 26 carries for 85 yards.
Patrick Henry continued its defensive masterpiece with fourth-down stops on each of Delta’s other three first-half drives, including a third three-and-out.
In five second-half drives, Delta (4-5, 2-4 NWOAL) turned it over on down in four of them. The other possession? A third-down interception by senior Timmy Johnson along the left sideline at the 12 yard-line.
“Our defense, what a game. What a game. I can’t say it enough,” Inselmann said. “I don’t think I’ve ever, in my 29 years coaching, had that many fourth-down stops. Ever. That’s phenomenal.”
Two of the second-half stops were stuffs on runs, which Delta needed two yards or less to move the chains. The other two stops were forced incompletions.
Patrick Henry finishes its regular season at 9-0 Archbold Friday night.