Massillon--Very few high school football players get to live out their childhood dreams. Count Sylvania Southview quarterback Alex Pidcock as one of the lucky ones.
Pidcock led the Cougars on a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the final seconds of Southview's 29-25 win over Cincinnati Anderson in the Division II state championship game Saturday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. His 16-yard touchdown pass, his third of the day, ended Anderson's bid to win a second consecutive state championship.
"I felt that we moved the ball well all night and going in (to that final drive) I had full confidence in our offensive line," Pidcock said. "It's something you dream about; I wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
It wasn't just the 16-yard touchdown pass Pidcock threw to Paul Murphy with just 32 seconds left to play that the 5,953 fans in attendance will remember. Pidcock set a new Division II title game record with 333 passing yards (23-of-30), surpassing the 283 yards thrown for by Louisville quarterback Neal Seman last season.
Pidcock also posted a team-high 66 yards on 23 carries and scored one touchdown on the ground.
Anderson (12-3) struck first on a 31-yard run by junior Kyle Slater, who finished the night with 26 carries for a game-high 177 yards and three touchdowns.
Pidcock responded with a one-yard run, but a botched snap led to an incomplete conversion pass, keeping the Redskins' lead at 7-6 with 11:50 left to play in the first half.
Tim Hausfeld's 32-yard field goal gave the Cougars a 9-7 lead with 3:26 left in the second quarter, but Slater again broke free for his second 31-yard touchdown run of the game to put Anderson back on top.
Southview (15-0) wasn't about to let the Redskins take momentum into the locker room. The Cougars moved to the Anderson 25, but Pidcock was sacked at the 38 with just one second to go. On the final play of the half, Pidcock lobbed a ball into the end zone where it was tipped by an Anderson defender right into the hands of freshman Allen Grant for a Southview score. Hausfeld's extra point gave Southview a 16-13 lead at the break.
"I thought we were in a safe defense; we tipped the ball and their kid made a play," said Anderson head coach Jeff Giesting. "You can run that last play 100 times and probably 99 times we knock it down. Tonight it didn't work for us."
The Cougars held the momentum, but Anderson quickly took it back when Kevin Cripe intercepted a Pidcock pass on the first play of the second half. The Redskins settled for a 33-yard field goal by John Howard, but the score was tied at 16.
After stopping Pidcock short on a 4th-and-1, the Redskins attempted to take the lead again, but Howard's 31-yard field goal sailed right.
Southview responded with a five-play, 81-yard drive capped by an athletic catch-and-run by senior Shaun Joplin. Pidcock found Joplin along the right sideline where Joplin stepped inside the defender to make the catch then easily found his way into the end zone for a 22-16 lead. A failed extra point kept the Cougars' lead at just six points.
Joplin's 166 receiving yards set a new Division II record. Current Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher held the old record with 140 in 2005.
Anderson drove to the Southview 38, but Daniel Rod's third down pass was picked off at the one by Mo May.
Despite having the lead and the ball with just 6:19 left to play, the Cougars had their back against the wall and opted to take a safety on 4th-and-10. The plan backfired when Luis Perez returned the free kick into Cougars territory.
"Mo May got the interception, unfortunately it happened on the one-yard line," said Southview head coach Jim Mayzes. "We tried to do the smart thing and took the safety, but they returned it to our 45."
Just over two minutes later, Slater high-stepped into the end zone for an Anderson touchdown. Howard's extra point gave the Redskins a 25-22 lead with just 2:33 left in the game.
From there, Pidcock's dream became a reality.