Piqua football drops close game to Lima Senior in season opener


PIQUA — It was matchup of Lima Senior’s big-play passing game against Piqua’s punishing ground attack.

And in the end, it was a big play by the Lima Senior passing game that sealed the win for the Spartans in a 36-31 victory on opening night Friday at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.

Piqua will look to even its record Friday night when Vandalia-Butler visits.

Piqua had taken the lead 31-30 with 4:24 remaining in the game on a 24-yard run by Jericho Burns and a PAT kick from Josh Heath.

Lima would turn the ball over on downs, but got it back with 1:47 to go at its own 20 after forcing a Piqua punt.

Quarterback Ja’niaus Hall would be make two big third-down completions to keep the Spartans drive alive.

On third and 10 from the 20, he would find Boog Wilson for 19 yards and third and 10 from the 49, he would hook up with Zaveon Garner for 11 yards to the Piqua 38.

After an imcompletion on first down, Hall would find Chance Sanders across the middle.

He made one tackler miss got out to the right sideline and went all the way to the end zone with 42 seconds remaining.

After Lima’s sixth straight failed PAT, the Spartans led 36-31.

Piqua started on its own 36 yard line.

After two completions for first downs, Piqua found itself in a fourth and 12 at the Lima 37 and Kahliq Wash intercepted to seal the win.

The game had begun with Lima recovering an onside kick on the Piqua 37.

On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Jalen Jones dove over the pile to give Lima a 6-0 lead.

The Spartans would need just two plays to go 80 yards after an apparent Piqua touchdown was wiped out when the Indians fumbled as they were crossing the goal line and it went out of the end zone for a touchback.

Hall completed an 18-yard pass to Sanders to start the drive, then found Kaden Hampton for a 62-yard touchdown.

Piqua would put together a 60-yard drive, with quarterback Caiden Thomas bulling his way into the end zone on the second play of the second quarter on fourth-and-goal from the two. Heath would add the PAT to make it 12-7.

Piqua would then take the lead on its next drive.

On fourth-and-nine from the Lima 24, Thomas found Carson Hawk across the middle for the score and Heath’s kick made it 14-12 with 9:27 remaining in the half.

Lima came right back with Hall throwing a 21-yard TD pass to Garner, but Piqua would close the gap just before the break,

After Wilson returned an interception for an apparent Lima touchdown, an illegal block was called on the return.

Starting at the Piqua 16, the Indians RayShawn Garrett returned the favor to give the ball back to Piqua.

On the final play of half, Heath would kick a 24-yard field goal to make it 18-17 at the break.

Lima got another big play in the third quarter when Jermaine Maxwell picked up a Piqua fumble and ran it back 71 yards for a score.

Piqua would counter early in the fourth quarter with a five-yard TD run by Ky Warner and Heath’s PAT tied the game at 24-24 with 11:48 remaining.

Lima would retake the lead 30-24 with 9:21 remaining.

Facing fourth and nine from the Piqua 38, Hall found Sanders and he again found his way into the end zone, setting up a wild finish.

Hall was 30 of 57 passing in the game for 429 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

Garner had nine catches for 146 yards and Sanders had eight catches for 122 yards.

For Piqua, Thomas completed 10 of 22 passes for 100 yards, with one TD and one interception.

Hawk had two catches for 44 yards and Garrett had three catches for 38 yards.

Warner led the rushing attack with 135 yards on 29 carries.

Burns added 73 yards on 13 carries and Thomas had 62 yards on nine carries.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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