CINCINNATI — Colerain and St. Xavier is always billed as a heavyweight bout. The powerhouse programs added another legendary chapter to their rivalry Saturday at Colerain.
Colerain, ranked No. 9 in the Super 25, beat the Bombers 13-10 in overtime. After missing a field goal late in the fourth quarter, Colerain senior kicker Christian Dinevski connected from 38 yards in overtime to give the Cardinals a 13-10 lead with a St. Xavier possession to follow. St. Xavier, unable to move the chains, was forced to try a 31-yard field goal to tie and extend the game.
Colerain senior Nate Niehaus, a 6-foot-6 defensive lineman, blocked the kick with his helmet, Niehaus said after Cardinal red flooded the field in a jubilant uproar.
“I knew we had a chance (to block the kick) because of the low kick and all that earlier,” said Colerain coach Tom Bolden. “I had a good vibe about it, but I knew regardless — even if he made it we’re gonna play some more football. I feel bad for the kid (St. Xavier kick Nick Arcuri), you always do, it’s a tough way to win a ball game but we’ll take it.”
Niehaus said it was the first time, including practice, he’s ever blocked a field goal.
“When he snapped it I just went up, jumped and got it … I just kind of felt it hit the top of my head,” Niehaus said.
The game was sent into overtime because the Bombers and Cardinals both missed field goals in the fourth quarter. With under seven minutes left in the game, St. Xavier attempted a 34-yard field goal but its low trajectory allowed the Cardinals’ defense to get a hand on it. Both teams traded punts before Colerain, aided by a St. X pass interference call, pushed what would have been a game-winning 41-yard field goal wide left with eight seconds left in regulation.
St. X and Colerain were scheduled to play Friday night but lightning pushed the game to Saturday morning.
“Another instant classic,” Bolden said. “Hats off to Steve (Specht) and that St. X team … that’s what high school football’s all about. Although it wasn’t a Friday night, it happened to be a Saturday morning, that’s what high school football’s all about. I told Steve we’ll see you in the playoffs.”
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Both defenses showcased how familiar these programs have become with one another over the years. Colerain finished with 205 yards of total offense, while the Bombers managed just 201.
Colerain’s first possession of the game was a five-play, 76-yard drive capped by a 44-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Deshaunte Jones to sophomore Ja’Von Hicks.
St. Xavier’s defense responded. After Colerain’s opening drive, the Bombers held the Cardinals to 27 yards on 17 plays and no points the rest of the first half. Colerain, which led 7-3 at the half, had only 129 yards of offense after its first drive of the game. Deshaunte Jones, who has offers from UC and Louisville, finished with 82 yards rushing on 26 carries and was 2-of-5 for 47 yards in the air.
“It wasn’t pretty, you know, but we did enough to win a football game,” said Bolden. “We weren’t real good offensively at times but (for most of the game) we were real good defensively and then special teams came up huge. We always talk to them about the three phases of the game.”
To start the third quarter, Colerain put together a 15-play, 68-yard drive and tacked on a field goal to extend the lead, 10-3. The Bombers answered with their only touchdown of the day, a 1-yard run by Pete Rumpke to cap a nine-play, 65-yard drive.
St. Xavier finished with 155 yards on the ground led by Sean Prophit with 75 yards on 17 carries. Junior quarterback Sean Clifford, a Penn State commit, was 7-of-14 for 46 yards and an interception.
St. Xavier coach Steve Specht said the game played out “the way every St. X-Colerain game plays out — it was a physical battle, it was back and forth the entire game and their kids made one more play than our kids did. That’s what it comes down to every year.”
The last time St. X and Colerain went to overtime, the Bombers won 12-9 in 2005 on their way to a state championship. Since 2005, Colerain and St. X have met every year, and three times they’ve played twice in the same season during that span.
“I think we’re better for the experience, both teams are,” Specht said. “Now it’s onto next week, it’s only week two, there’s a lot of football left to be played. You get better, you play in a game of this magnitude with the situation last night, coming out today, you deal with adversity and you’re better for the experience all the way around. It’s high school kids playing their hearts out, you go into overtime and you move on. You look at what you did well and try to improve that and you look at what you didn’t do well and you work to get better.”
Bolden said: “I’ve always told these kids from day one when I took over as head coach from coach Coombs ‘We’re gonna make memories and we’re gonna play big-time competition,’ because that’s what it’s all about — for them to be able to look back on it 5, 10, 20, or 30 years from now and remember everything about it.”
Colerain travels to La Salle in week three and the Bombers host Mentor, last year’s state runner-up.