Missing pad helps Cloverleaf reach Ohio postseason playoffs

Published 1:53 am Friday, October 31, 2008

Lodi Cloverleaf sneaked into the playoffs — by the seat of an opposing player’s pants.

Medina Highland recovered a fumble in the first overtime and was about to kick what would be the game-winning field goal when Cloverleaf’s coaching staff pointed out to officials that kicker Eric Duale wasn’t wearing the required tailbone pad. After a 15-yard penalty, the 30-yard kick became a 45-yarder and Duale missed it wide right.

Highland fumbled in the second overtime, Cloverleaf’s Allen Bittaker recovering, to set up Kyle Juszczyk’s 16-yard touchdown run which put the Colts in the playoffs for the very first time.

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Cloverleaf’s coaches had noticed Duale wasn’t wearing the pad earlier in the game but waited to tell the referees.

‘‘That was the game right there,’’ said Cloverleaf coach Kevin Gault. ‘‘It was the turning point. It’s hard to come back when that happens.’’

Highland coach Tom Lombardo was mystified by the turn of events.

‘‘I’m as baffled as you guys,’’ Lombardo said to reporters.

WHO’S LAUGHING NOW? Cincinnati Woodward capped a 10-0 season by beating Shroder 30-17. The Bulldogs will make their first Division I playoff appearance, becoming only the second Cincinnati Public Schools team to reach the tournament at the big-school level. The other was Western Hills in 2000.

Meanwhile, defending Division I state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier missed the playoffs with a 17-14 loss to Moeller in the final minutes. It was enough to vault Mighty Moe into the eighth and final playoff spot.

FLYING HIGH: Ryan O’Rourke of Avon completed the regular season with 30 TD passes without an interception; Liberty-Benton’s Aaron Craft finally threw his first interception in Week 10, finishing the season 141-of-168 passing (83.9 percent) for 2,150 yards and 27 TDs (he’s also rushed for 748 yards and 15 scores); Fostoria’s Micah Hyde had over 500 yards total offense in the Redmen’s 50-0 win over Upper Sandusky, throwing for 385 yards and 4 TDs and rushing for 120 yards and 2 scores, also returning a kickoff 72 yards for a TD.

RED ALERT: Steubenville Big Red became the third program in Ohio and 28th in the nation to reach 700 wins with a 34-14 win over Tonawanda (N.Y.) Cardinal O’Hara. Big Red has also won 60 straight regular season games and 54 in a row at Harding Stadium. Head coach Reno Saccoccia is 267-46 in his 26 years — an .853 winning percentage.