ARCHBOLD — With no time left on the clock, DJ Newman lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone and Elijah Zimmerman hung on for a 28-yard touchdown to lift Archbold over Coldwater 27-21 in the Division VI regional playoff opener Friday at Bluestreaks Stadium.
The touchdown came after Coldwater had called time-out following an 8-yard pass to move the ball to the 28. The game-winning throw was identical to a play Archbold attempted two plays earlier, but failed to connect.
“I trusted my guys,” said Archbold coach David Dominique after the game. “We were trying to get the ball to Antonio (Cruz), but he was double teamed. We used some misdirection and got single coverage with Zimm, which is exactly what we wanted.
“We actually were going to go for a short 5-yard out play and set up a field goal, but they called time-out and gave us time to think about it,” added Dominique. “There really wasn’t enough time to set up a field goal, so we decided to go for it.”
“I knew I was going to throw it to Elijah,” said Newman. “I just threw it up there and he came down with it.”
The game-winning throw capped a big game for Newman, who was 21 of 26 passing for 278 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for a touchdown.
“This means a lot,” said Newman. “Beating a team like Coldwater means a lot. They beat us in basketball and baseball so it feels good to beat them in football.”
“I am very proud of our team,” said Dominique. “Coldwater is a very good program and the MAC is a great conference. It stinks for them that their season is done, but at the end of the day I am proud of my team for what they did.”
Coldwater, which has won six state titles in football, was making its 23rd-straight appearance in the postseason.
The Cavaliers tied the game with 1:51 remaining, driving 79 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 16-yard pass from Jake Hemmelgarn to Will Broering.
The drive was kept alive on a trick play on fourth-and-four at the Archbold 46, when a direct snap to the running back was pitched to receiver Ross Weigel, who threw downfield to Broering for a 14-yard gain.
Hemmelgarn gained 10 yards three plays later to set up the tying score.
Hemmelgarn finished the game 18 of 30 passing for 188 yards and three TDs. He also threw a pair of interceptions.
Both teams had long drives come up without a point in the first quarter before Coldwater finally broke the scoreless tie with a 4-yard pass from Hemmelgarn to Noah Miller, who is signed to play football at Bowling Green State University.
The 6-5 Miller had nine catches for 85 yards and two scores.
Archbold answered Coldwater with a five-play, 50-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard run by Newman with 4:13 remaining in the first half.
The Streaks beat the buzzer to end the first half as well, scoring with one second remaining on a 1-yard run by Noah Gomez for a 14-7 halftime lead.
Gomez’s TD capped a nine-play, 77-yard drive in 2:33 that was highlighted by a receiver pass by Antonio Cruz to Brandon Taylor for 38 yards.
Coldwater tied the game late in the third quarter on Hemmelgarn’s second TD pass to Miller, this one from 8 yards.
Again Archbold answered on the ensuing drive, scoring on a 54-yard pass from Newman to Cruz, who broke a tackle and ran the final 25 yards.
Coldwater ends its season at 8-3, while Archbold (10-1) advances to the Division VI regional semifinals to face Liberty Center, which defeated Allen East 43-12.
This is a rematch from earlier in the season, when the Tigers defeated the Bluestreaks 39-36.
“I remember after that game and telling the team to look at the scoreboard and let that score 39-36 burn in,” said Dominique. “I told them to use that to fuel the rest of the season and we might just get a chance to face them again. Now here we are.”