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A Friday thriller you want to see

Leo, ranked second in Class 3A, thought it had lost the game against Heritage. But the Lions stormed back and won in overtime. See the exciting plays, the controversy and the fans rushing the field. Video by Justin A. Cohn

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Heritage’s Brenton Lockett tackles Leo’s Rance Harris during the first half Friday at Leo.

Lions perfect on imperfect night

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Heritage’s Zack Toles is tackled by Leo’s Chandler Fields, back, and Caleb Munson during the first half of Friday night’s game at Leo.

LEO-CEDARVILLE – The obituary was being written – on the game, on Leo’s unbeaten season and on its four years of dominance in the conference.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the cemetery.

The rain suddenly stopped. Heritage, which thought it had the game locked up, bumbled a punt in the final minute.

The Patriots’ defense stopped the Lions, but just as time was expiring, flags flew and Leo was given a chance for a 35-yard field goal with a second remaining.

Senior Zach Ferran made that, and made a 33-yarder in overtime, and the Lions defeated the Patriots 13-10, inciting the fans to rush the field.

“I thought the game was over, and this is amazing that this happened,” Ferran said of the hectic events that allowed him to tie the game.

On the previous play, Leo quarterback Sam Waters was tackled while scrambling forward and out of the pocket.

Amid chaos, Waters took the snap from center just before the final horn, but Leo had too many players on the field and Heritage wasn’t lined up.

After the officials talked it over, Leo coach Jared Sauder said he was told there had been a delay of game on the Patriots.

“It was confusing down there, and I’m not quite sure what they called. The referee explained to me ‘delay of game’ and we get one second back on the clock,” said Sauder, whose Lions are ranked No. 2 in Class 3A and improved to 5-0 (3-0 in the ACAC).

The challenge then became getting the snap off once the ball was set on the muddy ground.

“I didn’t get all my steps right,” Ferran said. “I just took two steps back and then ran for it (on the kick), and I just put it through the uprights.”

He did that again during overtime, before Leo’s defense forced Heritage into a field-goal attempt.

Senior Carson White, who had made the 27-yard field that put the Patriots up in the fourth quarter, pushed his 34-yard attempt to the right and the Patriots fell to 4-2 (3-1).

Heritage was the last ACAC team to beat Leo, on Sept. 26, 2008.

Amid the rainy conditions, both teams had problems protecting the ball, and both teams turned it over on punts.

A fumble by Leo junior Rance Harris, recovered by junior Cole Gerardot, set up senior Jacob Roop’s 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

For the first time this season, the Lions, who had outscored their opponents 172-21, were being tested.

Leo got going early in the third quarter, when a 33-yard pass from Waters to senior Caleb Munson set up sophomore Logan Leiter’s 20-yard touchdown run, tying it at 7.

“Our guys never quit in this game,” Sauder said. “That’s the big thing, that they kept their heads in it.”

Leiter rushed 17 times for 94 yards. Waters completed 4 of 13 passes for 78 yards with two interceptions, both by Gerardot, who also recovered a fumble for Heritage.

Heritage senior Wil Knapke rushed 16 times for 63 yards.