Kevin Lanning understood what was at stake when Southview coach Jim Mayzes called on him to attempt a field goal with 30 seconds left in the Cougars' homecoming game against Rossford.
Southview trailed Rossford by a point as a result of the Bulldogs storming back from a 20-7 halftime deficit after putting together two second-half scoring drives. It was also a missed extra-point attempt in the first half by Lanning that represented the difference in Rossford even owning a one-point edge.
Yet, Lanning seemed unfazed by the pressure-filled circumstances as he calmly whacked a 35-yard field goal right through the uprights to give Southview a 23-21 victory in a Northern Lakes League showdown of first-place teams.
Lanning's heroics allowed Southview to remain unbeaten in the NLL (3-0) while improving to 5-1 overall.
"I have all the confidence in the world in myself and I have people that tell me that they believe in me," said Lanning, who routinely makes field goals from 35 yards during Southview practices.
Mayzes also felt a sense of calm before Lanning lined up to kick the field goal, which came following a Rossford timeout. The Bulldogs tried to ice the kicker by giving him a little extra time to think about the kick.
The Cougars, led by quarterback Andrew Skeels, had marched 46 yards in six plays during the final three minutes to set up the field goal try.
"It [the field goal] wasn't that long at all," Mayzes said. "For him, that really wasn't anything."
Rossford, which entered the game tied with Southview and Northview in the NLL race, falls to 2-1 in the league and 4-2 overall.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs put themselves in position to come away with the victory by outscoring the Cougars 14-3 in the second half.
Rossford fullback Kurt Keller made it 20-14 when he capped a nine-play drive that covered 69 yards with a two-yard touchdown run with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter. Then the Bulldogs went ahead 21-20 late in the fourth quarter when Billy Pollock scored on a 22-yard run to cap another Rossford scoring drive and Kyle Schwind kicked the extra point.
But the Bulldogs failed to halt the Cougars from marching down field to get in field goal range for Lanning.
"We've got a lot of guys going both ways and they were awfully tired and it took its toll," Rossford coach Chris Werbylo said.
Skeels found sophomore Griff Whalen wide open on three straight pass plays good for 4, 20 and 13 yards to start the game-winning drive.
After a couple of runs by Skeels, which were good for nine yards, Lanning did the rest.
"Kevin Lanning is one of the best kickers in the league," said Skeels, who was the holder on the kick. "I knew he was going to make it."
Southview's defense held before time expired against a desperate Bulldogs offense that failed to get close enough to get in range for placekicker Schwind, who was 3-for-3 on extra points.
Rossford actually took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter by capitalizing on the first turnover of the night for the Cougars. Rossford recovered a Southview fumble in Cougars' territory with just under eight minutes remaining in the period.
It took only two plays for the Bulldogs to get on the scoreboard. After Rossford quarterback Tyler Kleeberger found no running room on the first play of the possession, he came right back and connected with Ryan Wiegand for a 33-yard touchdown completion with 6:47 left in the quarter.
Yet, the Cougars didn't trail for long.
Southview came right back and put together the first of three scoring drives in the half to take a 20-7 lead into halftime.
Skeels teamed with Jim Snider on touchdown completions of 30 and 31 yards in the first half. Chad Valdez also plowed his way into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown run in the first half for the Cougars.
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