Napoleon HB Charlie Harris (24) scores what turned out to be the game winning touchdown against Perrysburg in overtime.
The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
In a slugfest that more than lived up to the hype, Perrysburg and Napoleon exchanged blow after blow before the Wildcats remained standing at the end.
The Northern Lakes League showdown went to overtime, and Napoleon scored first. The Yellow Jackets matched that score, and then coach Matt Kregel decided to go for two points to win it.
Quarterback Steve Slocum rolled out, but his pass was batted down by the Bryant Schlade as Napoleon held on for a wild 35-34 triumph in OT.
“I was surprised they went for two. Our kids responded,” Napoleon coach Tory Strock said. “I thought they tried to sneak up on us and catch us napping. But our kids watch so much film that they weren't surprised.
“That game was so emotional, it's going to take a while for me to wrap my arms around it.”
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Napoleon (7-0-1) emerged as the only undefeated team in the NLL (5-0) and handed Perrysburg (6-2, 4-1) its first league loss.
Kregel said his top weapons, running back Mark Delas (game-high 203 rushing yards and two scores) and Slocum (291 total yards and three TDs), both suffered cramps in the second half.
“So I thought we had to end the game,” Kregel said. “I thought we had some momentum and had them reeling a little bit. It was a play we practice over and over. We thought we had to get the two point conversion and win the game.”
Napoleon tied it at 21 early in the fourth quarter on a hook and ladder as Jordan Lauf made the catch and flipped it to Charlie Harris who took it 73 yards for a score with 9:18 left.
Napoleon then took a 28-21 lead with 7:24 left as quarterback David Yunker lofted a pass up to Lauf, who hauled in an 18-yard TD.
On the next snap from scrimmage, Delas sprinted 80 yards for a score to tie it at 28 for Perrysburg. Delas (6-3, 240) used speed to breakaway and score in 15 seconds.
The Wildcats had the ball first in overtime, and it took them five plays to score as Harris, who finished with 86 rushing yards, went in from nine yards out.
A roughing the kicker penalty on Perrysburg gave the Yellow Jackets poor field position in overtime. They faced fourth and two but Slocum connected with Matt Kaczinski on a 25-yard strike to make it 35-34.
With no timeouts and Delas on the sidelines, Slocum tried to throw for the win. When the ball was deflected, Buckenmeyer Stadium went crazy.
“Somehow we were able to persevere,” Strock said. “Our kids found a way. Players had to make plays and I'm so proud of our kids.”
Yunker completed 11 of 28 passes for 161 yards and two scores.
“It was back and forth,” said Yunker, who threw three touchdowns. “We kept punching each other in the face and the person that landed the last punch won.”
Napoleon was picked to finish fifth and now every other team in the league has at least two losses. Napoleon closes with Northview and Bowling Green, two teams at the bottom.
“It's amazing,” Yunker said. “We are in the driver's seat for the NLL title.”
Yunker hooked up with Lauf, who is a 6-5 and will play basketball at the University of Toledo, on TD passes of 61 and 18 yards. Lauf finished with five catches for 103 yards.
Harris scored on runs of 73 and 9 yards.
The Wildcats churned out 432 yards of offense. Perrysburg amassed 556 yards, including 451 on the ground. The Yellow Jackets had 321 rushing yards in the second half.
“Perrysburg is very good and their defense really impressed me,” Strock said. “They have speed on offense. But this is a testament to the type of kids we have at Napoleon. At the start of the year we were picked to finish fifth in the league and we have two games to play yet. But they remember that every week and it's been motivation.”
Perrysburg turned the ball over three times on interceptions and Napoleon turned it over just once.
Three straight tough runs by Delas gave Perrysburg a 21-14 lead with 5:01 left in third when he scored on two-yard run. He had six carries on 62 yard drive.
Napoleon also won a dramatic game over Anthony Wayne last Friday as the Wildcats won in double overtime
“We came out and gave it our all,” Yunker said. “It was just amazing. It was a huge win.”
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