There have been some bold coaching moves in the history of Ohio Stadium and you just might be able to add the one by St. Edward’s Tom Lombardo in the final minutes of the Ohio Division I state final Saturday.
Cole Gest scored the go-ahead touchdown against Wayne (Huber Heights) with 1:19 remaining. Instead of kicking the ball away or squibbing it and then playing defense to run out the clock, Lombardo called for the onside kick.
The ball hit a defender and bounced to a St. Ed defender who recovered. Gest raced 51 yards for a touchdown on the next play and No. 8 St. Edward had a 45-35 victory and its second consecutive state title.
Kyle Fallon intercepted a desperation pass with 31 seconds remaining to end the game.
No. 15 Wayne (Huber Heights) had scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to take the lead but again came up short. The Warriors (14-1) have lost in all four of their state title game appearances, including three losses in five years to St. Edward.
Wayne had taken the lead on a 1-yard run by Matt Wilcox with 3:47 left after making an interception.
According to cleveland.com, Lombardo becomes the first coach to win state titles with two schools. He also won a crown with Lake Catholic in 2001.
St. Edward QB Jimmy Keefe tied a Division I state title game record with 419 yards and threw for two touchdowns. Gest ran for 122 yards and two scores on 23 carries and also had 11 catches for 134 yards and a TD.
Wayne’s hopes for a different ending resting largely on quarterback Messiah deWeaver. The Michigan State commit had transferred this season for his senior year. He was game as always and finished with 168 yards passing and two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions and was 8-for-21.