HAMLER — The final six minutes of the first half made all the difference in how the Bryan and Patrick Henry football teams approached the remainder of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League tilt on Friday night.
The waning minutes of the second quarter provided the defending league champion Golden Bears with plenty of optimism heading into the second half of the game. The Patriots’ sense of urgency only became magnified by the end of the first half.
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Bryan, ranked No. 2 in the Division IV state poll, scored three times during that stretch of the first half and it ultimately led to the Golden Bears taking a commanding lead into halftime en route to a 28-6 victory over the Patriots.
The Golden Bears (7-0, 5-0 NWOAL) earned their 19th straight regular season win dating back to the last game of the 2011 season. Furthermmore, Bryan earned its first road win at Patrick Henry since the 1999 season.
“This is huge because PH is a tough team,” Bryan quarterback Austin Schimmoeller said. “We came out and played one of our best games we’ve played all year.”
Schimmoeller threw three touchdown passes, including two during the momentum-changing stretch late in the second quarter.
Yet, Bryan defensive back Dakota McNany pulled off the most significant play of the game when he came up with his first interception of the year and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown to give the Golden Bears a 14-0 lead with 2:20 left in the first half.
“It all started with the defensive line getting the defensive pressure on all the timing routes,” McNany said. “I saw an outside [pass] route and I just jumped it and ran about as hard as I could. I kind of bobbled it for a second ... but then I got control of it and I thought ‘I’m taking this back to the house.’ ”
Kline thought McNany’s defensive gem was a major setback for the Patriots, ranked No. 10 in Division VI.
“That was huge and that’s a momentum swing,” Kline said. “It was 7-0 at the time and McNany saw the route coming and picked it. He’s a good athlete and for him to finish that run off was tremendous.”
Bryan’s first scoring opportunity began with 6:05 left in the first half. The Golden Bears marched 70 yards on 10 carries, concluding with Derek Knisely catching a 5-yard touchdown pass with 3:44 left in the half. McNany’s interception came 1:24 later.
The Patriots’ troubles continued moments later when they lost a fumble that was recovered by Bryan lineman Hayden Hagerman at the PH 25-yard line. Schimmoeller found Sean Culler on a quick slant for a 12-yard TD completion with 1:01 left in the half.
It clearly wasn’t how the upset-minded Patriots (5-2, 5-1) wanted to go into halftime against the Golden Bears.
Patriots running back Tobey Hernandez scored on a 1-yard run with less than four minutes to play in the third. Schimmoeller and Culler connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.