GROVE — The No. 1 takeaway from Miami’s 28-21 Rotary Bowl loss to Grove here Friday, Sept. 27 was “we’ve just got to find a way to win.”
The Wardogs stood elbow-to-elbow for three quarters, but the hosts made a touchdown just 70 seconds into the final stanza stand up.
But Miami’s final three possessions of the night ended with an interception, the ball going over on downs and an interception at the Ridgerunner 29 with 11 seconds remaining.
“We’ve just have to figure out a way to win,” head coach Zach Gardner said. “We’re just one play away from it here and there, but just can’t seem to figure it out. That is something we’ve got to establish.”
The win was the fifth straight and 12th in the last 13 meetings between the two archrivals.
The Wardogs’ last win came in 2014.
“Obviously, we were pretty pleased with the effort, attitude and everything like that,” Gardner said. “We just have to find a way to win. The only reason we’re not there is I think we lack confidence at times. We haven’t been that team. We have the capability of winning a few games, may several, but we just can’t get over the hump.”
Three of Grove’s touchdowns came on plays of 48 yards or longer: 81 pass on the Runners’ second offensive play of the night, 48 run and 80 pass.
The fourth was a 13-yard run three snaps after a punt.
The biggest thorns in the side of the Wardogs were a pair of freshmen: quarterback Carson Trimble and running back Emmanuel Crawford.
Trimble has Ottawa County ties: his father, Tyson, was quarterback when his dad, Rick, was in the midst of a successful run at Commerce.
Rick Trimble now is the Ridgerunners’ offensive coordinator.
Carson Trimble completed 7 of his 14 passes for 234 yards and the two long TD strikes.
Crawford contributed 147 yards and a pair of scores on 34 carries. He had a 48-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and a 13-yard carry at 10:50 in the fourth.
“They just killed us with the big plays,” Gardner said. “Every one of them was not a drive, a big play.”
The only “drive” the Ridgerunners was Crawford’s 13-yard carry and capped a 46-yard, three play series.
Miami’s touchdowns were a 10-yard strike from Payton to Josh Thronebury just over four minutes after the hosts’ 81-yard strike in the first, a flea flicker from Payton to Gabe McCleary to Payton to Thronebury that covered 39 yards with 4:24 left in the half and a nice 27-yard strike from Payton to Damion Burris late in the third.
“Last night could have been huge, creating a different scenario, but now we put ourselves in a different situation,” Gardner said. “We will just take it one week at a time and try to figure out how to win right now.”
Payton completed 13 of 30 passes for 190 yards. That was the 17th time in MHS history that a Miami quarterback had launched 30 or more passes in a game.
He also had a team-high 42 yards rushing.
Burris caught seven passes for 105 yards and Thronebury added four receptions for 67 yards.
The Wardogs travel to Catoosa Friday, Oct. 4.
The Indians fell to 0-4 with a 56-7 loss to Wagoner.