PORTSMOUTH — Unfortunately for the Titans, this was the one that got away.
That’s because host Notre Dame built a 16-0 third-quarter lead, only to see the visiting Symmes Valley Vikings vanquish it completely — and rally with the final 24 points to capture a 24-16 overtime triumph in a Southern Ohio Conference Division I tilt on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
And for the Vikings, which won last season’s SOC I outright championship, the win was extremely important — if they are to claim at least a share of this season’s crown.
The Vikings are now 3-1 in the SOC I and 4-1 overall, but — with a victory over visiting Northwest next Friday night (Oct. 2) — Symmes Valley will gain at least the split.
Northwest, which defeated Eastern 42-20 on Friday night, secured at least a league co-championship (4-0) — as Eastern is also 3-1 in the division.
A Symmes Valley victory, combined with an Eastern defeat of visiting Green, would actually result in a three-way tie for the championship.
The Titans, whose only win was over Green, fell to 1-4 and 1-3 in the league —and lost for a second time by eight points or less.
Notre Dame did play at Northwest extremely tough, and lost a close 10-6 score on Sept. 4.
The Titans took a 16-0 advantage on the Vikings with two first-quarter touchdowns and a 22-yard third-quarter field goal by Reagan Lester.
Notre Dame staked its early 13-0 lead after Dylan Seison scored on a 1-yard run and Luke Emnett erupted for a 47-yard sprint.
Lester landed the extra point after Seison’s score, but by the Vikings limiting ND to his field goal, the game’s momentum turned.
Grayson Walsh returned the ensuing kickoff a long distance, and quarterback Luke Leith got the Vikings on the board with a one-yard run of his own —of which Walsh ran in the two-point conversion for a 16-8 deficit.
In the fourth quarter, Symmes Valley muffed a punt, but retained possession by falling on the ball back at its own 10-yard line.
That play proved critical, as Leith then exploded for a 90-yard touchdown burst on the first play following.
He then ran in the crucial two-point conversion run, tying the game at 16-16 —and eventually forcing overtime.
But Leith, who amassed 144 yards on 14 carries and completed 3-of-4 passes for 43 yards, wasn’t done.
The Vikings got the ball first in the overtime session, and Leith landed the go-ahead touchdown from five yards out.
His second two-point conversion run, and his 22nd total point, gave the Vikings the lead at 24-16.
Eli Patterson then ended the game, sacking Notre Dame quarterback Caleb Nichols.
As expected, the Vikings and Titans took to their traditional run-oriented attacks, as Symmes Valley rushed 53 times for 363 yards and Notre Dame 33 times for 236.
In addition to Leith, Josh Ferguson finished with 131 yards on 15 carries for the Vikings, as Ethan Patterson posted 10 totes for 46 yards.
Symmes Valley, which attempted only six passes including two incompletions by Walsh, amounted 19 first downs to Notre Dame’s nine —and punted just once.
Notre Dame’s Logan Emnett paced all rushers in yards with 162 — and tied Ferguson for a game-high in attempts with 15.
Nichols, who completed 2-of-4 passes for 29 yards, added 88 rushing yards on 11 tries.
The Titans return home, and return to SOC I action, on Friday night against archrival East in the regular-season finale.
* * *
*Stats courtesy of the Ironton Tribune*
Symmes Valley 0 0 8 8 8 — 24
Notre Dame 13 0 3 0 0 — 16
ND – Dylan Seison, 1-yard run (Reagan Lester kick) (7-0 ND)
ND – Logan Emnett, 47-yard run (kick failed) (13-0 ND)
ND – Reagan Lester, 22-yard field goal (16-0 ND)
SV – Luke Leith, 1-yard run (Grayson Walsh run) (16-8 ND)
SV – Luke Leith, 90-yard run (Luke Leith run) (16-16 tie)
SV – Luke Leith, 5-yard run (Luke Leith run) (24-16 SV)
First downs 19 9
Rushes-yards 53-363 33-236
Passing yards 43 29
Total yards 406 265
Cmp-Att-Int 3-6-1 2-4-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-35 3-27
Punts-average 1-24.0 3-39.3
RUSHING —Symmes Valley: Josh Ferguson 15-131, Luke Leith 14-144 3TD, Derek Crum 3-7, Grayson Walsh 7-23, Levi Niece 4-12, Ethan Patterson 10-46; Notre Dame: Logan Emnett 15-162, Caleb Nichols 11-88
PASSING — Symmes Valley: Luke Leith 3-4-1 43, Grayson Walsh 0-2-0; Notre Dame: Caleb Nichols 2-4-0 29
RECEIVING — Symmes Valley: Levi Ross 1-7, Josh Ferguson 1-17, Drew Scherer 1-19; Notre Dame: Matt Boldman 1-17, Dylan Seison 1-12
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