Midview's Zac Gill dives to the end zone for a touchdown against Zion Cross of Lorain in the fourth quarter. DAVID RICHARD / CHRONICLE
LORAIN -- The Lorain-Midview rivalry has produced several exciting games highlighted by wild finishes, but Friday night’s installment was the best yet.
Midview rallied from three scores down to take a fourth-quarter lead, surrendered the lead in jaw-dropping fashion then put together a clutch game-winning drive to pull out a 37-34 victory in front of a packed George Daniel Field.
Middies fans might have flashed back to three years ago when Dustin Crum made his debut as a sophomore starter and led Midview down the field late in the game for a winning touchdown.
Senior Seamus Higley took over the reins this season from Crum, and nearly matched the 2016 Golden Helmet winner’s debut performance.
Higley ran for a touchdown, threw for 253 yards and two more scores and saved his best pass for last. With Midview trailing 34-30 and facing fourth-and-9 from the Lorain 26-yard line, Higley dropped back, waited for sophomore receiver Zac Gill to break open and launched a perfect strike down the middle for the touchdown.
“The line gave me tons of time and Gill just made a tremendous play to get open,” Higley said. “We ran that play a couple times earlier in the game and we didn’t hit it one time. The first time we hit it, it’s a touchdown.”
Midview had missed the previous drive when Higley had one pass batted down at the line and another intercepted in front of the goal line.
“I told him after he missed a guy down there the drive before, I said, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you to win this game,’” Midview coach D.J. Shaw said. “He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’ve got it coach.’
“Seamus, he’s a senior, he’s been around the program, he’s a leader and we had full confidence in him going into this game. He has full belief in himself. He’s not a sophomore like Dustin was three years ago.”
Lorain built a 26-7 lead thanks to three blockbluster plays -- a 54-yard run by Daylin Dower, a 55-yard pass from Justin Sturgill to Zion Cross and a 28-yard pass from Sturgill to Davion Dower -- but the Middies were able to salvage the first half when Higley hit Ben Gendics for an 8-yard score with 16 seconds left.
Midview erased the deficit quickly in the third quarter, pulling to within five points when senior running back Connor Wolfe scored on a 10-yard run up the middle and taking the lead three plays later when senior defensive lineman Brandon Gilchrist returned a strip-sack fumble 22 yards for a touchdown.
“Boy, the momentum switched on us and things went bad real quick, but our kids didn’t quit, they just kept fighting,” Lorain coach Dave McFarland said. “I’m really proud of our kids. A lot of resiliency there, I thought we played pretty good football.”
The last three minutes of the game featured one big play after another.
Midview was facing fourth-and-9 from the Lorain 25 when Dakota Mincy intercepted Higley’s pass at the Titans 2-yard line. On the next play, Sturgill hit Daylin Dower on a screen pass but Midview senior linebacker Trever Begin pulled Dower down in the end zone for a safety and a 30-26 lead.
Things looked bleak for the Titans, but Isaiah McDowell provided new life when he pounced on the onside kick, then the Lorain faithful exploded when Sturgill hit Tyshawn Lighty for a 61-yard touchdown on the next play. Daylin Dower ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 34-30.
That’s when Higley put the Middies on his back, starting the drive with three straight completions -- 9 and 13 yards to Nick Crum, and 36 yards to Seth Sanders -- to set up the game-winning connection with Gill.
“The last three years it’s been four points or less. We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Shaw said. “We made a couple slight adjustments but nothing too crazy. We basically told our guys, ‘Hey, we were down 14-0 last year and came back to win.’ The bottom line was we had to make plays.”
Lorain had its chances with a minute remaining in the game.
Sturgill hit Jermele Nolen Jr. for a 15-yard gain, ran for 8 yards and Midview was hit with a defensive holding call to put the Titans at the Midview 26.
But three passes into the end zone ended up on the turf and the Middies had won their sixth straight over Lorain.
“Two good football teams and they made a play at the end,” McFarland said. “D.J. did a great job … he certainly outcoached me. I don’t have a lot of answers right now. They put 37 points on us, and … that’s a lot of points.”
Shaw said it was the defensive effort up front that made the difference in the second half. He also said he’d prefer to not wait until the final drive to win games this season.
“I can’t do this nine more times … (but) it’s a lot easier when you win them,” Shaw said. “One thing about being here at Midview, our kids have had the opportunity to play in some awesome games, some awesome atmospheres. We’ve played in extremely big games and it’s a lot of fun.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter.
Midview 37, Lorain 34
Midview 7 7 14 9 -- 37
Lorain 6 20 0 8 -- 34
L -- Daylin Dower, 54 run (kick failed)
M -- Seamus Higley, 2 run (Christian Roig kick)
L -- Zion Cross, 55 pass from Justin Sturgill (Cross pass from Sturgill)
L -- Davion Dower, 28 pass from Sturgill (pass failed)
L -- Savon Chavis, 1 run (run failed)
M -- Ben Gendics, 8 pass from Higley (Roig kick)
M -- Connor Wolfe, 10 run (Roig kick)
M -- Brandon Gilchrist, 22 fumble return (Roig kick)
M -- SAFETY, Trever Begin tackles Daylin Dower in the end zone
L -- Davion Dower, 61 pass from Sturgill (Daylin Dower run)
M -- Zac Gill, 26 pass from Higley (Roig kick)
First downs 23 19
-- by rushing 10 7
-- by passing 13 9
-- by penalty 0 3
Yards rushing 174 194
Yards passing 253 262
Total offense 427 456
Passes att./comp. 37/21 26/14
Intercepted by 0 1
Fumbles/lost 0/0 1/1
Penalties/yards 8/75 9/50
RUSHING — (M) Connor Wolfe 26-134, Alonzo Banks 3-23, Seamus Higley 7-14, Ben Gendics 2-3. (L) Daylin Dower 18-118, Savon Chavis 12-51, Zion Cross 2-18, Justin Sturgill 7-10, Jermele Nolen Jr. 1-(-3).
PASSING — (M) Higley 21-37-253-2-1. (L) Sturgill 14-26-262-3-0.
RECEIVING — (M) Gendics 7-80, Nick Crum 5-48, Seth Sanders 4-63, Wolfe 2-12, Zac Gill 1-26, Isiah Johnson 1-17, Aidan Breggins 1-7. (L) Davion Dower 6-99, Daylin Dower 3-26, Cross 2-55, Nolen Jr. 2-21, Tyshawn Lighty 1-61.