Wes Doxsie’s 27-yard field goal had given Temperance Bedford a one-point lead with 1:42 left and Saline’s Vinnie Patteri was nervously pacing the sidelines.
Saline was trailing by one because Patteri had missed an extra point in the third quarter.
“I knew my team was going to bring it down to near the end zone, and I was going to get a second chance,” Patteri said. “If not, they were going to score a touchdown. But I was ready to do it.”
He had to be ready because quarterback Zach Schwartzenberger heroically led the Hornets down the field, all the way to the Bedford 3-yard line with seven seconds to play.
Patteri had his chance, but before he could attempt the field goal, Bedford called a time-out.
“This is a chip shot,” Schwartzenberger, the holder, told him. “This is a kick you warm up with before every practice. You’ve done it a million times. Just do it again.”
Patteri did it again.
Patteri’s 22-yard field goal Friday night gave Saline a 26-24 victory.
This was an offensive explosion.
Each team punted only once and when Saline (4-0, 2-0 in the SEC Red, No. 9 in Division 1) punted with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter, it didn’t see the ball again until after Doxsie’s field goal.
Following a penalty on the first play of the series, Saline was on its 8-yard line. On fourth-and-10 from its 20, Schwartzenberger scrambled, looking for Bryce Wolma, and then completed a pass to Andrew Diuble, who took off for a 44-yard gain.
“We got a matchup,” Schwartzenberger said. “We had our two best receivers running up the middle of the field — Wolma and Diuble. Diuble was wide open, made the catch and made guys miss, got up field and got a huge gain for a first down.”
Schwartzenberger gained 15 yards on the next play and running back Connor Hibbard (133 yards, 20 carries) had a key 10-yard gain to set up Patteri’s attempt.
“Of course, I was a little bit nervous,” Patteri said. “But the job had to be done. God gave me a second chance.”
Saline coach Joe Palka thought it was appropriate that Patteri had the opportunity to redeem himself.
“After the extra point miss, we thought it was important, and we have confidence in him,” Palka said. “He does it every day in practice. It was good to get him back on the field and let him win the game.”
Bedford (3-1, 1-1, No. 6 in Division 2) was penalized 15 yards on the field goal, which was assessed on the kickoff. Patteri squibbed the kickoff and recovered it himself so Bedford never got to run another play.
“That was just sealing the deal,” Patteri said. “It felt amazing.”
“Amazing” is a good way to describe Schwartzenberger, who completed his first 12 passes before receivers dropped the next two. He finished 16 of 20 for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was really fired up for this game,” he said. “Bedford is a great team, it’s a great rivalry. You’ve got to play your best game against them.”
In addition to his passing, Schwartzenberger added another 73 yards on 11 carries in only his fourth game as a starter.
“He’s just a kid that’s been in the program four years, kind of waited his turn to make plays and that’s what it’s all about — patience,” Palka said. “He’s just a competitor — a great baseball player, a scholarship player to Toledo. He’s just a competitor and that’s what you look for in your quarterback.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.