WAYNESFIELD — No. 8-seeded Waynesfield-Goshen made history Saturday night.
The Tigers secured the first playoff victory in WG history with a 14-13 win over No. 9-seeded Sycamore Mohawk in an OHSAA Division VII Region 26 Tournament first-round game.
“In the 76 years this football program has been around, we believe this is the first playoff win. We have never made it to the second round until now,” Waynesfield-Goshen coach Shane Wireman said. “This win is huge not just for this team, but also for the community. We are super excited about that. I could not be more proud of our guys.”
Waynesfield-Goshen (9-2) advanced to play a Region 26 Tournament quarterfinal game at No. 1-seeded Bascom Hopewell-Louden (10-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Chieftains defeated Hardin Northern 49-13 on Saturday in another first-round game.
Leading 14-13 late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers sealed their win by stopping the Warriors on fourth down deep in WG territory before going on offense and running for a first down in the final 90 seconds.
Out of timeouts, Mohawk couldn’t stop the clock.
At the conclusion of the game, WG students ran onto the field to celebrate with the Tigers.
“We definitely fought hard until the end, for sure. I’m really proud of our team,” said WG running back/linebacker Blake Barnes, who picked up that critical first down with a nine-yard gain on third-and-7 from the Tigers’ 25. “It’s really awesome that we were able to make history.”
The Warriors grabbed a 7-0 lead with 2:00 left in the first quarter, when Zaiden Fry ran six yards to the end zone. Kahne Hayman’s extra point handed Mohawk a seven-point cushion.
But the Tigers answered quickly with a four-play, 58-yard drive that saw Cooper Roberts cross the goal line after making a 15-yard TD run. Ryder Siebeneck added a PAT kick to tie the score at 7 with 23 seconds showing in the first quarter.
Mohawk, which was able to move the ball from goal line to goal line by running and passing, forced WG into a three-and-out to begin the second half before going on a scoring drive.
The Warriors marched 80 yards on 15 plays, capped by Collin Barth’s one-yard touchdown run with 3:59 left in the third quarter. When Mohawk faked the extra-point kick, game officials ruled Hayman down as he attempted to run toward the end zone while attempting a 2-point conversion. The Warriors clung to a 13-7 lead.
That play loomed large in the game’s outcome.
“Points are a premium in tight games like this one,” Wireman said. “I think they called a knee down, which went in our favor and it ended up being the deciding factor.”
With 11:02 remaining, WG went on a 12-play, 55-yard drive that saw Roberts convert on third down with an 11-yard pass to Barnes at the Mohawk 29 before Barnes capped the Tigers’ possession with a one-yard TD run with 6:17 to play.
Siebeneck’s extra-point kick made it a 14-13 advantage for the Tigers.
“Six years ago, when we took over as coaches, we didn’t have a kicker to even try extra-points,” Wireman said. “To have a guy now, like Ryder Siebeneck, to go out there and punch it through like its an old hat, that was a huge kick for him.”
Siebeneck is an All-Northwest Central Conference kicker.
“I’m proud that it went through, but I couldn’t do it without my offensive line, my snapper and my holder,” Siebeneck said.
The Warriors responded by driving to the WG 23-yard line, but Barth was stopped by Siebeneck, with help from Barnes and Hunter Craig, after a two-yard gain on fourth-and-3.
“I was almost ready call timeout, but Ryder, Blake and Hunter made a great play,” Wireman said. “They went out there, executed and got it done.”
The Tigers took over on downs with 3:07 remaining and ran Barnes three consecutive plays for a first down that sealed WG’s first postseason win.
“Hats off to Mohawk’s defense because they played us physical, hard-nosed. If you look at their roster, they’re not nearly as big as us up front but their guys played hard by hammering on us all night,” Wireman said.