TIFFIN – A total of five turnovers by the Swanton football team, substantial penalties, and Lucas Munroe’s 37 yard field goal in the third quarter for Milan Edison was the difference as the Chargers outlasted the Bulldogs, 17-15, in the Division V regional semifinal game Friday night at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin.
“It was just too many mistakes,” said Swanton coach Mike Vicars. “I’ve said it before when you get into week 12, mistakes are amplified. We just couldn’t overcome them tonight.”
Swanton, leading 8-7, forced a punt by Edison to begin the second half, gaining possession at the Charger 47 yard line. However, just a two-yard carry for the Bulldogs’ Michael Lawniczak, Tim Rankin’s four-yard run on second down, and no gain for Lawniczak on third brought up a fourth-and-4 at the Edison 41 yard line.
The Charger defense came up big, pressuring Swanton’s Bryce McComb as he fell down back at the 46 for a sack, turning the ball over on downs.
“You can’t take a sack there, you’ve got to throw the ball,” noted Vicars. “But our defense rose up. But, we had some critical penalties. We gave them extra opportunities.”
Swanton’s defense had a pair of penalties on the drive, first offsetting penalties on both teams, then a Bulldog facemask on a first down carry by Edison fullback Dan Stoll that put the ball at the Bulldog 27.
A sack by Swanton’s Nick Sienkiewicz on Edison quarterback Keegan Hall helped to force a field goal, as Munroe’s 37 yard attempt crawled over the cross bar to put the Chargers ahead, 10-8, with 3:56 left in the third.
Edison got to the Swanton 10 on their opening drive of the fourth quarter, but four attempts on the goal-to-go situation, the fourth on Hall’s QB sneak that was stuffed at the half yard line gave the ball back to the Bulldogs.
However, Swanton’s second down pass was picked off by Braden Ehrhardt at the Bulldog 28 yard line with 6:16 left in the contest. The Chargers cashed in when on the following play, Hall, out of a triple option look, kept the ball and ran it in for a 28 yard touchdown, increasing Edison’s lead at 17-8 with 6:09 to go.
Swanton answered right back, completing passes of 13 and 12 yards to Robbie Gilsdorf and Gunnar Oakes to move the ball inside Charger territory at the 41. Three plays later, Lawniczak moved the chains with a six yard run on third-and-one at the 32.
Then, on second-and-eight from the Charger 13, McComb found Oakes over the top of the defense for a TD. After a Nick Koback extra point the Edison lead was reduced to 17-15 with 3:23 remaining.
Edison was in need of just one first down to put away the Bulldogs, and Tyler Scott began their drive with a six-yard run to get to their own 41. On second-and-four, Sam Stoll picked up three yards to the 44.
A false start infraction on the Chargers turned a third-and-one into a third-and-six, but Swanton was forced to use their second timeout as the officials kept the clock moving despite the stoppage of play.
It would turn out to be costly as Sam Stoll took a toss around the right end for a first down to Swanton’s 46, closing out the Bulldogs who had just the one timeout.
Arguably Swanton’s most costly turnover came when they fumbled the opening kickoff, giving the Chargers the ball at the Swanton 30. They capitalized when Dan Stoll went up the middle for a 25 yard TD to make it 7-0 not even 1:30 into the game.
Gilsdorf made a brilliant one-handed catch off a tipped pass by Edison that went for 35 yards down to the Charger 18 with 49 ticks left in the first quarter. But, after an incompletion to Oakes on a slant, a throw to the end zone was intercepted by Sam Stoll ending the Bulldog threat.
Swanton did get on the board in the second quarter in a drive that took over six minutes off the clock. Lawniczak lept into the end zone from a yard out, and did the same on the two-point conversion attempt to make it 8-7 Bulldogs with 2:20 to go until half.
The Dogs were outgained by Edison 262-250.
McComb hit on 11 of 21 passes for 165 yards and a TD but also threw three picks. Five of those completions went to Gilsdorf for a total of 102 yards. Oakes had five catches for 52 yards and a score, while Lawniczak rushed for 55 yards to go with his score.
Dan Stoll paced Edison with 82 yards rushing and a TD.
The loss put a close on a historic season for Swanton football, one that both the school and community will remember for a long time.
“Great seniors, gonna miss them an awful lot. Had an awful lot of fun,” said Vicars, reflecting back on the season. “The community really showed their true grit. They’ve really supported this team.
“These kids (gave) everything they’ve had. They’ve been so dedicated. The coaching staff’s been so dedicated. My heart’s broke because the family ends, but not because we lost.”
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010