Maumee and Anthony Wayne - two schools expected to seriously contend for the Northern Lakes League championship - wasted little time to stir things up last night.
Maumee rallied back from an early deficit to pull out a 15-12 victory over the host Generals.
The Panthers' Brad Goatley capped a nine-play drive covering 63 yards with a four-yard touchdown run with 35.2 seconds remaining in the game to give the Panthers a 13-12 lead. Goatley, who played at St. John's Jesuit last fall, followed his touchdown by plunging through the AW defensive interior to make a two-point conversion.
AW, which jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first half, had one final possession to at least try to tie the score with a field goal. However, Maumee defensive back Kevin Mires secured the win for the Panthers (3-1, 1-0 NLL) when he grabbed a batted pass out of the air with three seconds remaining to account for the Panthers' third interception of the night off AW quarterback Jason Sadowski.
Steve Sellers and Alex Junga also recorded interceptions for Maumee, which came up with two fumble recoveries as well.
“This is a huge win for us coming out here,” Boles said. “Anthony Wayne is a good team. To make all those turnovers I'm happy we just hung in there.”
The Panthers fumbled four times, losing two of them. The first turnover came on the game's opening kickoff return.
Maumee returner Nate Mikolajczyk was stripped of the football and AW came up with the loose ball at Maumee's 25. That set up the Generals' first scoring opportunity.
AW used five plays before getting into the end zone when Sadowski connected with Brandon Cramer on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 9:40 left in the quarter. Sadowski missed the extra-point try, so the Generals had to settle for a 6-0 lead.
They then marched 59 yards in nine plays, capped by a four-yard run by Brad Verbosky with 2:38 left in the quarter. Again, Sadowski missed on an extra-point try and AW led 12-0.
Maumee, which was held without a first down during the first quarter, finally put together a scoring drive in the second quarter. The Panthers found success with a no-huddle approach, marching 65 yards on seven plays with Robert Piechowiak finishing off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 58.6 seconds left in the first half. Joe Incorvaia added the extra point to make it 12-7.
AW had one last possession in the first half and nearly turned it into another scoring drive. The Generals (3-1, 0-1 NLL) drove to Maumee's 10 before settling on a last-second field goal try. Sadowski's attempt from 31 yards hooked from the right outside the left pole.
AW coach Craig Smith didn't have any words for the outcome. He knows there were opportunities they didn't take full advantage of. Sadowski's two missed extra points and field goal miss turned out significant in the end.
“That's a total of five points,” Smith said.
Boles didn't have the answer for all the turnovers.
“We never really got going the whole night,” Boles said. “We just made a couple of big plays.”
An off-balance catch by Sellers covering 17 yards on a fourth-and-three play set up Goatley's touchdown run.
Sadowski completed 17 of 27 attempts for 200 yards.