PDT Sports Editor
MINFORD — Points and flags were plentiful in Friday’s Division IV Region 15 quarterfinal and in the end, the points advantage went to the No. 5 Piketon Redstreaks (9-2) as they defeated No. 4 Minford Falcons (8-3) 49-27. Twenty-three penalties were called for an average of almost six penalties per quarter.
It marked the first playoff win in Piketon football history and was a fitting return to the postseason after a 15 hiatus.
Redstreak quarterback Isaac Brabson (12 rushes for 80 yards and 17-of-28 for 252 yards passing) accounted for four touchdowns and 332 total offensive yards to help a team that is the hardest playing group Piketon coach Tyler Guillon has seen since the mid-nineties.
“Great victory for our team for our school for the young men. I told them to soak it up. It’s a once in a lifetime feeling and they played their butts off,” Guillon said. “That’s as hard I have seen a Piketon team play since the nineties with my dad coaching.
Minford’s opening drive was a microcosm for how the game played out. Perhaps a bad omen for the Falcons, running back Austin Carter was lost to an injury on the Falcons’ first offensive snap.
Three plays later Piketon’s Colten Williams blocked Minford’s punt attempt and setup the Redstreaks’ first score. Isaac Brabson of Piketon completed his first of three first half touchdown tosses to Jeremy Farmer. The score spanned 19 yards and the extra point put Piketon on top 7-0 with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter.
Minford’s subsequent drive lasted eight plays, but ended abruptly when Aaron Southworth of Piketon recovered a Zach Farrar fumble after a completion.
Piketon made it count with a 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive that ended with a Jeremy Farmer touchdown rush from one yard out. The extra point made it 14-0 Piketon with a little under 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Minford continued the troubling habit of putting the ball on the ground two plays after the kick off. Sean Berry lost his handle on the pigskin and Cameron Waddell of Piketon recovered at the Minford 45-yard-line.
“The turnovers really put us in a hole early on,” Minford coach Brent Daniels said.
Once again, Piketon capitalized on Minford’s error with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Brabson to Farmer making it 20-0 Piketon with just six seconds elapsed from the second quarter clock. The extra point made it 21-0.
“We knew that coming in the turnover battle was huge and we turned some of those turnovers into points,” Guillion said.
Minford finally came to life on offense when Cody Stapleton scored on a 52-yard touchdown scramble down the sidelines. The Josh Parsons extra point made it 21-7 with 11:38 to play in the first half.
On Piketon’s subsequent drive, Austin Thompson of Minford intercepted Brabson and gave the Falcons a chance to narrow the margin. However, Minford’s offense sputtered and was forced into a three-and-out.
Piketon put together a grinding 14-play, 91-yard drive that was capped by a Stephen Royster touchdown run from a yard out. The successful extra point made it 28-7 with 3:10 to play before the intermission.
Piketon’s subsequent kick off was called back after a Redstreak went offside, and the subsequent kickoff, a squib-style boot, hit one of the Minford-upmen and Piketon recovered.
That led to another Redstreak touchdown when Brabson connected to Evan Ferguson making it 35-7 with 2:06 to play in the half after the extra point.
Minford executed its two-minute drill to the success of a Stapleton touchdown rush from three yards out, slimming Piketon’s advantage to 35-14 after the extra point. With only 7.8 seconds left after the kickoff, Piketon took a knee to go into the locker room.
The Falcons showed some fight, forcing the Redstreaks into a turnover on downs on the half-opening drive. Minford junior Jared McCray broke up a rush by Stephen Royster on fourth down.
However, Piketon returned the favor when Colten Williams sacked Stapleton on fourth down to flip the possession in favor of the Redstreaks. A 30-yard pitch and catch from Brabson to Ferguson setup a 5-yard touchdown rush by Royster with 3:41 left in the third quarter. The extra point made it 42-14.
The Falcons struck on their next drive when Stapleton found the end zone again, this time from one yard out making it 42-20 with 36 seconds left in the quarter. As was the case all evening, penalties cost the Falcons when they were flagged on the extra point. The second attempt from 36-yards away was wide.
With moderate lead entering the fourth quarter, Piketon stuck with what had been working the first three stanzas and continued to put the ball in the air. The combination of passing and and penalties cost the Redstreaks a chance to melt the clock as Farrar intercepted Brabson on fourth and 15 with 9:12 remaining in the contest.
Minford struck quickly, using a little over a minute to span 93 yards. The touchdown came on a 76-yard touchdown catch from Stapleton to Farrar that split two defenders. The extra point made it 42-27 with 8:03 to play.
The Falcons’ onside kick attempt was recovered by the Redstreaks and this time coach Gullion decided to utilize the running game to shorten the contest. Seven-straight rushes found the Redstreaks in the end zone once more celebrating Brabson’s 13-yard scoring scamper. The extra point made it 49-27 with 3:19 to play.
“We ran hard we blocked hard and we hit hard. All-around great game by our kids,” Gullion said.
On Minford’s last drive, Senior Sean Berry carried the ball six times out of the eight plays. The final rush of his carry was a 4-yard gain as the clock expired.
“I can’t say more about the few seniors we have. We have a few playing both ways and they played their butts off today. I’m tickled to death with them,” Daniels said. “No one thought we would be where we are and that’s a testament to my kids and my seniors especially. They did what they were supposed to do this year and that’s lead by example.”
Piketon advances to play No. 1 St. Clairsville, who is undefeated and cruised past Cadiz Harrison Central Friday night 41-7.
After a season off from the playoffs in 2011, the Falcons returned to a familiar landscape in postseason play in 2012, finishing 8-3 on the season.
“Expectations have been set and we expect to be competing for the SOC every year and we expect to be in the playoffs every year,” Daniels said. “So we will get in here in the off season and do the work that needs to be done and get back here to the playoffs again.”
Editor’s note: Full game statistics were not available at press time due to deadline restrictions.
Rushing: Piketon - I. Brabson 12-80, S. Royster 20-90, C. Waddell 5-43, J. Famer 5-16; Minford - Z. Justice 5-23, C. Stapleton 12-62, S. Berry 14-71, N. Compton 3-20, G. Piguet 1-5.
Passing: Piketon - I Brabson 17-28 252 yards; Minford - C. Stapleton 6-13 158.
Receiving: Piketon - E. Ferguson 6-89, J. Farmer 5-93, C. Williams 4-71, D. Williams 1-9; Minford - Z. Farrar 5-123, N. Compton 1-35.