Think of Maumee as the Northern Lakes League s September surprise.
The Panthers raised their unblemished record to 5-0 last night with an impressive 28-21 victory over rival Perrysburg before a raucous crowd of approximately 4,500 at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.
Maumee quarterback Jake Goatley led the Panthers on four scoring drives, including three after halftime against the Yellow Jackets defense.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound junior, threw three touchdown passes in the game, but the decisive one came within the final two minutes of play to break a 21-21 score.
Facing a third-and-21 situation, he found Erik Studyvin on a crossing pattern that turned into a 40-yard touchdown after Studyvin ran free from his defender and raced down the sideline into the end zone with 1:10 left in the game.
The Panthers improved their NLL record to 2-0 when Mikkal Johnson intercepted a deflected pass thrown by Perrysburg s Matt Slocum with 41 seconds remaining in the contest.
An exuberant Panthers crowd rushed onto the Yellow Jackets field after the clock reached zero.
It was the best feeling of my life, Studyvin said, recalling his game-winning catch. It was a great feeling. All the guys worked hard. It just wasn t my play.
The Panthers trailed the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 1-1 NLL) by a touchdown twice during the game. That didn t seem to bother the Panthers, who entered the game recognizing that Perrysburg would test their mettle.
We knew we would find out a lot about ourselves tonight, Maumee coach John Boles said. Perrysburg is a good team.
We knew the longer we stayed in the game, the more it would be to our advantage.
Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel credited the Panthers for their effort.
We didn t play well, and they played great, Kregel said.
After neither team found its way into the end zone in the opening quarter the Yellow Jackets put the first points on the scoreboard.
Taylor Dimmerling, who was held to 59 yards on 18 carries, gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead when he scored on a five-yard run with 5:15 left in the first half.
However, Maumee used its next possession to tie the score when Goatley capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Damon Contat with 1:50 left in the half.
Perrysburg came out in the third quarter and took its first possession of the half down the field to go ahead 14-7 when Dimmerling finished off a seven-play, 53-yard drive with a one-yard run with 7:54 left in the quarter.
But the Panthers eventually tied the score at 14 when Kyle Bowell finished off a scoring drive with a three-yard run with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
Maumee linebacker Chris Rogge set up the Panthers next scoring opportunity when he intercepted a Slocum pass in Perrysburg territory.
The Panthers needed only two plays to take their first lead of the game.
After Goatley connected with Nick Gebphart for a completion that netted a one-yard loss, he hit Jay Hall on a quick route and Hall darted his way through the Yellow Jackets defense en route to a 18-yard touchdown reception with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
But the Yellow Jackets showed some resilliency of their own as they put together a fourth-quarter scoring drive to tie the score at 21 when Brandon Butler finished off a six-play, 56-yard scoring drive with a five-yard touchdown run with 4:57 left in the contest.
The score didn t stay tied for long as Goatley led the Panthers down the field on their game-deciding scoring drive.
Goatley, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 177 yards, used his feet to scramble for a key 38-yard run on the drive.
Jake is smart, Boles said. He s a very good competitor, and he takes care of the football.
And the Ding-Dong bell, which is presented to the winner of the annual meeting, will sit in Maumee s possession for the next year.
Yet, Boles admits the victory may mean much more to the Panthers.
It s big for our community, and it s big for our school, Boles said.
Contact Donald Emmons at:email@example.com 419-724-6302.