ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE Olmsted Falls' John McCabe lifts up Michael Howard after Howard scored a touchdown againt Midview in the third quarter Friday night at Olmsted Falls High School.
OLMSTED FALLS — Playing Olmsted Falls six times in the past three years, Midview thought it had seen everything in the Bulldogs’ playbook.
What the Middies didn’t know was the Bulldogs added a page.
Olmsted Falls junior running back Jack Spellacy shocked the Middies with a halfback pass to wide receiver Braden Galaska that turned into a 60-yard game-winning touchdown with 42 seconds left and made what looked like a come-from-behind Midview win into a heartbreaking 26-23 loss in a Division II, Region 6, regional quarterfinal.
It’s the second year in a row Olmsted Falls (10-1) has knocked Midview out of the playoffs by a three-point margin. The Bulldogs advance to next Friday’s regional semifinals where they will face Wadsworth, a 61-42 winner over Sylvania Northview, at a site to be determined.
Midview (8-3) had just taken its first lead of the game with 2:04 to play when senior Ben Gendics got outside the Olmsted Falls defense and turned a second-and-18 play into a 64-yard touchdown.
After a missed extra-point attempt, Midview was left clinging to a 23-20 lead and needed just one defensive stop to live to play another week.
Spellacy kept the Bulldogs’ final drive alive with a 5-yard run on fourth-and-2 with just over one minute to play. Then, two plays later, Olmsted Falls coach Tom DeLuca turned to that back page of the playbook and pulled out a play his team has been working on in practice the last four weeks.
“A lot of people really try to come up on us and stuff the run,” DeLuca said. “That’s why we put that play in. When they bite we want to be able to go over the top. We’ve worked on that at least once a day in practice. I’m glad we hadn’t used it in a game yet. When we needed it, it really worked out.”
Midview had a tough time moving the ball in the first half, its only points coming on a 90-yard Isiah Johnson kickoff return and a 35-yard Christian Roig field goal.
Quarterback Seamus Higley lost two of his favorite weapons in the first quarter when Johnson and Seth Sanders left the game with injuries.
Despite being shorthanded, Midview moved the ball much better in the second half with an eight-play scoring drive that ended with a Higley-to-Connor Wolfe 25-yard touchdown pass and a nine-play drive that led to Gendics’ score.
“We came together as a team and told coach we were going to score,” Higley said. “We just didn’t finish the game out. We have the best coaching staff in the state of Ohio at Midview, I believe, and they made a bunch of changes to get our offense going. We had such a strong senior class this year and the young guys really stepped up when we needed them.”
Midview held the Bulldogs to 246 yards on the ground, 69 of which came on one first-quarter run by Michael Howard. The Middies allowed nearly 400 yards rushing in a Week 8 loss to the Bulldogs.
The Middies defense also had a big stop with just over four minutes to play to force a Bulldogs punt and give their offense enough time to score.
“I’m really proud of this group,” Midview coach D.J. Shaw said. “They were a really resilient group. When they were down they kept fighting and never quit. We always say ‘Never surrender’ when we leave the locker room. We knew it was going to take four quarters tonight. I feel like we played well enough to win but give credit to (Olmsted Falls), they beat us. I feel really bad for our kids right now.”
Spellacy, who along with senior Luke Lombardo, were the workhorses in the Olmsted Falls backfield with a combined 31 carries, was ready when he had a chance to throw the biggest pass of the Bulldogs’ season.
“We saw they were biting hard when we were trying to go around the edge so we knew the corner was going to bite,” Spellacy said. “I just had to throw it up. Braden made a heck of a play. I was just worried he was going to fall. It’s hard to stay up on this field. They were doing a good job of stopping the run tonight but we started to execute at the end. It’s a different game in the playoffs. You have to work harder for everything.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Olmsted Falls 26, Midview 23
Midview 7 3 7 6 — 23
Olmsted Falls 13 0 7 6 — 26
OF - Luke Lombardo, 2 run (Jake Politowski kick)
M - Isiah Johnson, 90 kickoff return (Christian Roig kick)
OF - Braden Galaska, 16 pass from Teddy Grendzynski (kick fail)
M – Roig, 35 FG
OF – Michael Howard, 10 run (Politowski kick)
M– Connor Wolfe, 25 pass from Seamus Higley (Roig kick)
M — Ben Gendics, 64 run (kick fail)
OF -- Galaska, 60 pass from Jack Spellacy (kick blocked)
First downs 14 18
— by rushing 6 9
— by passing 7 6
— by penalty 1 3
Yards rushing 148 246
Yards passing 124 134
Total offense 272 380
Passes att./comp. 20/10 14/8
Intercepted by 0 0
Fumbles/lost 1/0 1/0
Penalties/yards 7/65 7/45
RUSHING — (M) Ben Gendics 3-87, Connor Wolfe 16-38, Seamus Higley 8-16, Alonzo Banks 2-7. (OF) Michael Howard 9-116, Jack Spellacy 15-63, Luke Lombardo 16-43, Nick Daily 5-15, Teddy Grendzynski 2-10, Josh Jackin 2-(-1).
PASSING — (M) Higley 10-20-124-1-0. (OF) Grendzynski 7-13-74-1-0, Spellacy 1-1-60-1-0.
RECEIVING — (M) Wolfe 3-58, Gendics 3-43, Nick Crum 2-18, Zac Gill 2-5. (OF) Braden Galaska 7-120, Richie Nock 1-14.