THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Post-game fireworks lit up the sky just outside of Steinecker Stadium moments after the final play between Perrysburg and Southview on Friday night.
Yet, the two Northern Lakes League rivals provided plenty of fireworks of their own for an estimated crowd of 3,000 on hand for a contest that wasn't decided until the final play of the game.
Southview quarterback Austin Valdez flung a Hail Mary pass toward a pack of receivers and defensive backs waiting in the end zone for the football to fall from the sky.
It bounced off the hands of several players before finally dropping to the ground and guaranteeing a 23-16 victory for the Yellow Jackets.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images
"They did a great job of fighting back, but our kids made one play at the end to get the win," Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said.
Shutting down Southview (2-4, 1-2) in the final seconds proved decisive, but the Yellow Jackets (5-1, 3-0) did plenty early on to put themselves in position to remain undefeated in league and stay tied with Napoleon for first place.
No one proved more instrumental in the outcome than Jackets quarterback Steve Slocum, who figured in on every point Perrysburg scored.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound playmaker rushed for two touchdowns, passed for another, and kicked a field goal and a couple of extra points.
Slocum scored on runs of one and 60 yards to help the Yellow Jackets' cause in the second half after trailing 7-3 lead at halftime.
"Steve Slocum is an excellent football player, offensively, defensively, and on special teams," Kregel said.
Slocum's most significant play of the game may have been when Perrysburg was pinned inside its own 10 and he fired a quick-slant pass to Austin Bishop, who streaked past Southview's secondary coverage on his way to a 94-yard touchdown reception. The play gave Perrysburg a 23-7 cushion with 5:06 remaining in the game.
"They isolated him one-on-one and we'll take advantage of that every time," said Slocum, referring to Bishop, who got behind Southview's J.J. Pinckney on the play.
Southview attempted a late comeback led by Valdez, who directed the Cougars on two scoring drives during the final five minutes of action.
The Cougars cut the Yellow Jackets' lead to 23-13 when Valdez found Brandon Stewart open for a 31-yard touchdown catch with 3:48 left to play.
Southview recovered an on-side kick and marched deep into Perrysburg territory before having to settle on a 37-yard field goal by Chris Ellis to make it 23-16 with two minutes to play.
The Cougars had final possession with less than a minute remaining, but the Yellow Jackets' defense refused give in.
"The kids fought and they battled back and we're so proud of them," Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. "Perrysburg made a couple more plays than us."
Both teams struggled to establish any offensive rhythm during the first half, scoring a combined 10 points at the break.
Perrysburg struck first and took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by Slocum with 19 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
But Southview capitalized on a Perrysburg turnover to take over the lead midway through the second quarter.
Jackets punt returner Colin Boerst muffed a punt near midfield that was recovered by the Cougars.
Southview responded with an eight-play, 36-yard scoring drive. Ahmad Parker finished the drive with a four-yard carry into the end zone to give the Cougars a 7-3 advantage with 6:34 left in the first half.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.