SIDNEY — The Milton-Union football team continued its dominance of Three Rivers Conference football.
But, not before having to hold off a furious Lehman Catholic rally in the second half to escape with a 51-34 win Thursday at Sidney Memorial Stadium/30&0 Field in the TRC opener for both teams.
It was the Bullodgs 15th straight win in TRC play, since the conference returned in 2021.
Milton-Union, 2-2, will travel to Troy Christian Friday night, while Lehman Catholic, 2-2, will play at Miami East Friday.
The Bulldogs seemed in a control with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter and a 37-14 lead.
But, Lehman Catholic quarterback Donovan O’Leary caught fire.
First, he found Devin Pride in the right corner of the end zone for a 42-yard TD pass to pull the Cavaliers within 37-20.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, De’Ron Pride turned a short pass from O’Leary into and 59-yard touchdown and Daniel Carlisle’s PAT kick made it 37-27.
Two plays after the kickoff, Seth Knapke recovered a Milton-Union fumble at the Bulldog 23-yard line.
O’Leary covered that distance in two plays.
Despite a holding penalty that made the PAT kick a 30-yard attempt, Carlisle booted it through to make it 37-34 with 8:38 remaining.
After Milton-Union was forced to punt, Payton Mayfield made two big plays on the defensive side to seal the win for the Bulldogs.
First, he picked up a fumble at the Lehman 25 yard line and sprinted into the end zone.
Braden Schaurer’s kick made it 44-34 with 4:54 remaining.
Then, two plays later, he intercepted a pass across the middle and returned it to the Lehman 21.
After a penalty, Milton-Union was moved back to the 36 and Jordan Foose took over.
Foose carried the ball on six straight plays, finishing the drive off from the three-yard line.
Schaurer’s kick made it 51-34 with 1:46 remaining.
After Lehman turned it over on downs, the Bulldogs ran out the clock.
The first half had been dominated by Milton-Union.
The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and went 70 yards for the score.
On fourth-and-two from the Lehman 27, Mayfield took a handoff, turned the left corner and didn’t stop until he was in the end zone.
Milton-Union went 71 yards on its next possession.
Foose caught a 25-yard TD pass from Wyatt Kimmel and Schaurer’s kick made it 13-0.
The Bulldogs went 63 yards on their next possession.
Foose ran it in from one-yard out and Schaurer’s kick made it 20-0 with 6:14 remaining in the half.
Lehman got on the board late in the half, with O’Leary running it in from four yards out.
Carlisle’s kick made it 20-7 at the break.
The Cavaliers stunned the Bulldogs immediately after the second-half kickoff.
Turner Lachey ran 76 yards to the Milton-Union 4-yard line and Will Ford ran it in on the next play. Carlisle’s kick made it 20-14.
Milton-Union answered with a 3-yard TD run by Foose and Mayfield ran for the two-point PAT to make it 28-14.
Then the roller coaster continues in Milton’s favor.
The Bulldogs were forced to kickoff from their own 25 after a penalty.
They were able to tackle the return man on the Lehman 7-yard line and a penalty moved the ball back to the 3-yard line.
On the next play, the shot gun snap sailed out of the end zone for a safety and Milton led 30-14.
After the free kick, Milton took over on the Lehman 38.
Foose had a 20-yard run, that would set up an 18-yard TD run by Mayfield.
Schaurer’s kick made it 37-14, before Lehman would make a furious comeback to make things interesting.
Kimmel completed seven of 10 passes for 101 yards.
Foose had 33 carries for 147 yards and had three catches for 31 yards.
Mayfield had seven carries for 50 yards and caught three passes for 59 yards.
O’Leary completed 10 pass for 204 yards and rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries.
Lachey had 85 yards rushing on four carries, 41 yards receiving on three catches and intercepted a pass.
De’Ron Pride had two receptions for 76 yards and Devin Pride had three receptions for 65 yards.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]