UPPER SANDUSKY - It was the good thing the ambulance hadn't left the field yet because Upper Sandusky coach Jake Moyer was beginning to wonder if he was going to need a ride.
"It's a good thing I have a pacemaker. I'd probably be dead right now," Moyer said.
Moyer had just watched his team hold off an epic Buckeye Central comeback, with the Bucks falling short, 32-20.
"It was a most satisfying win, especially homecoming. There's a lot of distractions," Moyer said. "That's part and parcel of the game: all the distractions you get. You can't imagine it down in a place in Columbus with all the distractions, let alone here in little ole Upper Sandusky. But that's just part of the game."
The Rams went into the fourth quarter dominating the Bucks (1-5, 0-3 North Central Conference), 26-0.
The Bucks completed a 60-yard drive that began with a 1:19 left in the third and Michael Adkins found paydirt just 61 seconds into the fourth. The 1-yard run was punctuated by a Kameron Jones to Bryce Christy 2-point conversion to cut it to 26-8.
The Rams answered with a 6-play 59-yard drive that end when Will Adelsperger, who led the Rams with 74 yards rushing on the night, scampered 40 yards to the end zone with a series of jukes and cutbacks along the home sideline. A failed 2-point conversion left the Rams in front, 32-8, with 7:52 left to go.
It was Adkins again about three and a half minutes later, racing past the goal line from five yards out. A failed 2-point conversion made the score 32-14.
The Bucks recovered the onside kick. Six plays and 43 yards later, Buckeye Central saw Adkins punch it in from five yards out again. The passing play for the 2-point conversion was batted down by the Rams' defense, making it a 32-20 game with 2:23 left.
Upper Sandusky (4-2, 2-1 NCC) saw the onside kick go off the fingertips of Ross Dible, who dove back on the ball.
The Bucks held Upper to one yard over three downs, called two time outs and forced the Rams to punt from their 36. But the punt went off the side of Tylor Pritchard's foot, going just nine yards.
Buckeye Central took over with 1:11 to go in the game, 45 yards from the end zone. Jones completed passes to Christy and Jordan Herrnstein to push the Bucks to the Upper 27. On the next play, Jones slung a pass that was deflected and picked off by Pritchard, ending the threat.
"I'm proud of our kids," Buckeye Central coach Jason Ratliff said. "We've been struggling this season and we came out tonight against this Upper team and hung right with them. ... We tried to stress playing the game through. I thought those couple games early season that we kind of quit and didn't play four quarters. Tonight we played for four quarters. If we get that effort next week, we'll be able to be on the winning side."
Adkins finished with 145 yards rushing on 24 carries.
"He's getting better. He had an ankle injury earlier in the season and he's battled through it," Ratliff said. He's never taken a play off. He's a work horse."
Moyer said he was a beast.
"That running back is a very good running back, that Adkins kid," he said. "They're pretty good size. They're bigger than we thought they were."
Conversely, the Bucks held Pritchard to 63 yards rushing on 23 carries and 88 yards on 7 of 16 passing. He also had two of the Rams' touchdowns, scoring on a 3-yard run in the first quarter and a duplicate in the third.
"Our defense did real well. They have a nice quarterback and he does a lot of nice things," Ratliff said. "I thought for a while they made some nice plays. But for the most part, we did very good up front."
But the Rams had some other players step up big with the Bucks focusing on the junior QB. Aside from Adelsperger's efforts, Cory Frey had 53 yards rushing and a touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams put on the gas in the second, scoring three touchdowns. None was bigger Alex Kenner's with 5:46 to go in the half. After BC turned it over on its first three possessions, the Bucks found themselves pinned on their own eight after Jones intercepted Pritchard.
After gaining just a yard in the next three downs, the Bucks were forced to punt from the nine. Upper Sandusky's Ian Baker penetrated the line and got his palm on the ball as it left Cade Kaple's foot. Alex Kenner scooped it up and took it into the end zone.
"I shouldn't have got it. It should have been someone else. But I just went. I saw the opening and dove and got it," Baker said.
Moyer said Baker has been out of this world.
"Ian Baker has had the best three weeks of maybe any player I've ever coached," he said. "The previous two weeks, he had 33 tackles. It's incredible. Give Ian a lot of credit and Russell Hall, his defensive line coach, a Tiffin kid. Coach Hall does just a great job with the fundamentals and make sure they do it right every time."
Jones threw for 106 yards on 8 of 19 passing with two interceptions. Brandon Brookes led the Bucks with two catches for 61 yards.
"We had a few mental mistakes on our part. We had a blocked punt. We practiced it all week but they got to us," Ratliff said. "We got a punt blocked for a touchdown. And we fumbled and we give them a short field and they score a touchdown. We have to stop doing those things for us to win football games."