Playoff march for Knights halted in loss to Tiffin Columbian

Playoff march for Knights halted in loss to Tiffin Columbian
Dave Mast

While the defensive line for West Holmes never got statistical praise, head coach Zach Gardner knows his horses up front were the key to building an incredible defensive campaign that helped the Knights reach regionals.


A magical season came to an abrupt halt for the West Holmes Knights football team, which despite a strong effort, fell to Div. III Region 10 top seed Tiffin Columbian 34-24, ending a fiery run through the playoffs for the Knights and stopping their season with a 7-3 mark.

This one was a back-and-forth affair all night as the two teams took shots at trying to deliver a knockout punch.

Columbian came out in its fast-paced offense, snapping the ball as quickly as its line could get set up and forcing West Holmes to keep pace.

It didn’t take long for the Tornadoes to whirlwind their way into the end zone, scoring on the first possession of the game. The Knights drove to midfield and pinned the Tornadoes deep on the 7-yard line, and the WH defense forced a punt, which Tucker Kaufman returned to the Columbian 32.

Now back in business, the Knights evened the slate when Peyton McKinney found Brady Taylor on a screen pass, and Taylor sailed untouched in the end zone, Nate Ginsburg’s extra point tying things at 7-all.

A long bomb and an 8-yard scoring strike quickly gave Columbian the lead back at 14-7 on the ensuing possession, but the Knights drive to tie was thwarted when McKinney was picked off in the end zone after an impressive drive led by Taylor.

The Tornadoes took flight, driving down the field until Noah Clark made a diving interception. A pass to Taylor got the Knights to their own 43, and McKinney hooked up with Taylor on a long pass that went 57 yards and tied things at 14-apiece.

Once again Columbian responded quickly, driving 71 yards for a 21-14 lead, and after the teams traded stops on a couple of possessions, Clark made his second interception, this time snagging it inches from the ground after a deflection.

West Holmes went for it on fourth down and was stuffed at the line, but senior Luke Vess made a big stop on first down. Lane Graham followed it up with a sack, and the teams went into the half at 21-14.

Neither team moved the ball on their initial drives in the second half, but the Knights were able to lock things up again at 21-all on their second possession of the half. McKinney found Taylor, who went for 34 yards, which led to a 30-yard fade pass to Garret Eastep for a touchdown.

Columbian drove on the ensuing possession, but the line of Vess, Bubba Hay and Brant Burgett stuffed the Tornadoes on fourth-and-5, and the Knights took over possession. That lasted one play when McKinney launched an interception that gave Columbian the ball on the Knights’ 49.

After Kaufman nearly made an interception, the Tornadoes took the lead at 27-21 on a 50-yard screen play, but the Knights answered with a season-long 36-yard field goal from Ginsburg to draw to within 27-24.

Columbian got a pair of big plays to advance into Knights’ territory, but Logan Kula came away with a pick and West Holmes was in business, seeking the lead with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

McKinney found Eastep for a big gainer into Columbian’s side of the field, but a costly interception gave the Tornadoes the ball on their own 40.

Led by Graham, the Knights forced a punt and took over possession on their own 13 with just under six minutes to play. A 3-yard run by Brett Shearer and a screen pass to Emmett Meyer set up a third-and-2 situation, but Columbian stuffed Shearer for a gain of one, setting up a decision for Gardner. He elected to punt and go for a stop, but Ginsburg couldn’t handle a knee-high snap, dropped the ball and the Tornadoes swarmed in and blocked the punt, recovering the ball on West Holmes’ 2-yard line with 4:18 to play.

A quick score pushed the Columbian lead to 34-24, and the Knights were unable to generate any kind of threat over the final-four minutes, ending their season at 7-3.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load