Upper Sandusky wins rare conference title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Upper Sandusky is no stranger to making the state football playoffs. Heading into the postseason as a conference champion is something new.

The Rams clinched a share of their first Northern Ohio League football championship since 1955 by rallying to beat Tiffin Columbian 21-14 Friday night.

Upper Sandusky qualified for the playoffs for the third straight season, and NOL co-champions Columbian and Bellevue also advanced. The Rams, a No. 2 seed in Division IV, host Lima Bath on Saturday night.

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They beat Columbian behind junior quarterback Greg Micheli, who led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. He threw a 16-yard TD pass to Brock England and ran 4 yards for a score to give the Rams the lead.

''When we tied that thing up, a number of coaches turned to me and said 'Coach, we're going to win this thing,''' Upper Sandusky's Dick DeWitt said. ''We just saw our kids lighting up, and I think (Columbian) was a little shocked that we were willing to gut it out, that we were willing to come back like that.''

BIG WINS: Wooster beat Orrville 41-27 Friday night to win the first championship in the new Ohio Cardinal Conference and clinch just its second playoff berth. Wooster has a four-game winning streak against its rival for the first time since 1954-57;

Vanlue ended an 85-game Blanchard Valley Conference losing streak with a 13-10 win over Arcadia on Friday night. It was Vanlue's first league win since a 33-0 decision over Arcadia on Sept. 30, 1994. Vanlue scored the go-ahead touchdown with 10:18 remaining, had a goal-line stand later in the fourth quarter and blocked the tying field-goal attempt in the final minute;

Bascom Hopewell-Loudon clinched a share of its first Midland Athletic League championship by beating Seneca East 40-14. The Chieftains had been the only team in the 17-year-old conference not to win a title;

Marc Krauss intercepted a pass at the 2-yard line to keep the game tied and kicked an 18-yard field goal in overtime to give Hamler Patrick Henry the Northwest Ohio Athletic League championship with a 17-14 win over Wauseon;

Cory-Rawson defeated McComb 56-50 after scoring 15 points in 15 seconds of the third quarter to erase a 15-point deficit. Jason Bormuth started the rally by returning a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown. After the Hornets forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Andy Cox threw a 20-yard TD pass to Brian Ferris and then ran for the 2-point conversion to wipe out McComb's 43-28 lead. Cory-Rawson won a share of its first Blanchard Valley Conference championship since 1992;

Terry Malone ended his 46-year coaching career with a win, guiding Hamilton Badin to a 45-7 victory over North College Hill on Saturday night. The 70-year-old Malone is the winningest high school coach in Ohio history with a 360-117-8 record.

COINCIDENTALLY: Columbus Walnut Ridge plays at Columbus Independence in the Division II playoffs Friday night, a week after the teams met in their regular-season finale. Ohio State recruit Eric Haw led Independence's 35-22 win with 249 yards rushing, helping his team earn the City League South Division championship. Walnut Ridge's Gary Russell ran for 279 yards. Haw has 2,308 rushing yards and 24 TDs, and Russell has 1,935 yards and 27 TDs this season.

BIG PERFORMANCES:Kyle Burns of Pataskala Watkins Memorial ran for 314 yards with five touchdowns and also returned an interception for a score in a 54-14 win over Delaware Hayes; Bryan Latanick of Worthington Kilbourne had four interceptions in a 17-0 victory over Hilliard Davidson; Kevin McCann of Defiance Tinora rushed for a school-record 326 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 45-0 victory over Haviland Wayne Trace; Josh Cover of Hicksville ran for 232 yards and three TDs to break his school's single-season rushing and touchdown records, finishing the year with 1,532 yards and 18 TDs;

Blaine Maag had 286 yards rushing and all of Columbus Grove's five touchdowns in a 33-14 win over Bluffton; Fostoria's Ryan Hook ran for a school-record 310 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-7 win over Shelby; Cincinnati Withrow's Robert Williams intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns, and also recovered a fumble to lead a 45-8 win over Cincinnati Taft; Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy's Robbie Wilson had 227 yards rushing and scored five TDs in a 57-27 win over Sidney Lehman.

ODDS AND ENDS: Cleveland St. Ignatius was held to 15 yards rushing in losses to Cincinnati St. Xavier and Columbus DeSales to close the regular season. The playoff-bound Wildcats have committed 14 turnovers in their last three games; Columbus Brookhaven completed its first undefeated regular-season (10-0) since the school started playing football in 1962; Sarahsville Shenandoah (10-0) wrapped up its first perfect regular-season with a 41-7 win over Caldwell.