East Knox survives as Crestview misses last second field goal
HOWARD — The East Knox community has been wishing for a state football playoff appearance for many years.
After Friday night, those football fans may need a heart monitor.
The Bulldogs beat Ashland Crestview, 21-20, in one of the most heart-stopping finishes in playoff history.
“I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe it,” said EK senior Gage Steinmetz. “We fought together as a team. All we kept saying was one unit. Let’s finish this game. We fought, we fought, we fought. We came together as a team and made it happen.”
The Cougars (7-4) gave themselves a chance to win the Division VI playoff game, marching 75 yards in the final three minutes to get the ball to the EK 5 yard line. Quarterback Ross Kuhn scrambled to the 5 as time was winding down, then spiked the ball with 0.3 seconds remaining.
That set up a 22-yard field goal attempt by Levi Kibler to win the game. A time out by EK iced Kibler, who rushed the attempt and hooked it wide left by a few feet. The roar from the EK crowd as the ball sailed wide could be heard for miles.
“It’s very exciting when you’re in the playoffs and get the W. It feels great,” said East Knox coach Cody Reese.
The finale was just one of several heart pounding moments for both sides of the field.
After a feeling-out period which lasted the whole first half, the excitement level ratcheted up quite a bit in the second.
Shane Knepp had the first big play for the Bulldogs, intercepting a Crestview pass with a diving catch at his own 16-yard line. The Cougars had taken the second-half opening kickoff and were moving down the field before the pick.
After an incomplete pass, Caleb Gallwitz did what he’s done all year long — took the pitch and raced the length of the field. The senior running back ran 84 yards, practically untouched, for the touchdown to give the Bulldogs (11-0) a 14-7 lead.
That lead lasted a total of 13 seconds.
That’s all the time it took for Evan Hamilton to race 85 yards with the kickoff for the game-tying score.
Early in the fourth quarter, East Knox tried once again to take control, scoring on a 1-yard run by Gallwitz. That was Gallwitz’s third touchdown of the day.
Crestview once again bounced back, taking just five plays to score. But, that’s when Dawson David came through with the defensive play of the year.
The senior linebacker busted through the line and blocked the kick, keeping EK in the lead and proving to be the winning play.
“My teammates opened a hole for me and I was able to make the block,” David said. “It feels great. We’re the first East Knox team to win 11 games, but we’re not done yet.”
“I was jacked (when David blocked the kick),” said Reese. “I told the kids from day one, we were not going to make a mistake on an extra point. I’ve seen too many games lost because of a missed extra point. When I saw him do that, that was huge.”
Gallwitz ended the day with 213 yards rushing on 27 carries. He also caught four passes for 88 yards and accounted for all three Bulldog touchdowns.
Kadden Lester completed 18 of 30 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown. Gage Steinmetz caught six of those passes for 56 yards, while Braden Kannady caught five for 31 yards.
Crestview was led by Sage Baith, who rushed 20 times for 89 yards and one touchdown. Kuhn completed 13 of 22 passes for 140 yards. Chase Shifflet caught six passes for 63 yards.
The Bulldogs will now take on Attica Seneca East (10-1) next Friday at 7 p.m. in the regional semifinals. The neutral site will be announced Sunday.