|Perrysburg’s Gus Dimmerling (10) throws a pass as Akron Ellet’s Jacob Ivery closes in during Friday’s game. (Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
AKRON — By posting a shutout in the second half, Perrysburg earned its first playoff win in school history Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets, after an uninspiring first-half performance, forced three turnovers in the second half en route to a 28-21 come-from-behind win over Akron Ellet in a Division II first-round playoff game.
“It’s awesome to come out here and make history with my teammates,” said Perrysburg defensive back Seth Durham, who had two second-half interceptions.
Perrysburg head coach Matt Kregel, usually full of colorful postgame analysis, was a man of few words.
“What a great night. I’m literally speechless right now and that doesn’t happen to me,” Kregel said.
Perrysburg, 9-2 overall, will play third-ranked Avon (11-0) at a neutral site next Friday.
The site will be announced Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Avon knocked Perrysburg out of the first round of the playoffs last year.
The win over Ellet did not come easy.
Perrysburg allowed 167 rushing yards in the opening 24 minutes and trailed 21-13 at halftime.
“We’re a second-half team,” said Perrysburg linebacker Matt Mesker.
Perrysburg limited the Orangemen to 62 yards, and forced three interceptions in the second half.
Durham picked off Ellet quarterback Jake Fisher on Ellet’s opening drive of the second half, setting up game-tying drive by the ’Jackets.
A 31-yard scoring pass from Gus Dimmerling to Scott Freeman on a slant over the middle put Perrysburg within two points. After a two-point conversion pass from Dimmerling to Freeman, Perrysburg had tied the Orangemen at 21-21 just three minutes into the second half.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of screaming and yelling,” Kregel said of his halftime talk. “It was about making adjustments, eliminating mistakes and going out and winning the game.”
Durham came up huge again.
His second interception of the game and 10th of the season did not set up a Perrysburg score, but it prevented an Orangemen touchdown.
From the Perrysburg 44-yard line, Fisher tried a deep ball down the middle, but a diving Durham came up with the ball at the 1-yard line, stopping a potential Ellet score.
“It put us in a good position to win the ballgame,” Durham said of his two interceptions.
And the Perrysburg defense did not slow down.
After a stalled drive by the ’Jackets, Mesker came up with what was arguably the defensive play of the game.
An attempted fade to the left corner of the end zone by Fisher was tipped by Perrysburg corner Quinn Thomas and a diving Mesker came from out of nowhere to make the highlight-reel interception
Fisher was 5-of-14 for 33 yards and three interceptions in the second half.
“Everyone plays hard,” Mesker said. “Everyone reads their keys and gets to their assignments. Coach Andy Brungard (defensive coordinator) does a really good job of putting us in perfect spots.”
Mesker’s interception seemed to light a fire under the Perrysburg offense.
The ’Jackets turned in a 13-play, 80-yard game-winning drive that ate over four minutes off the clock.
Dimmerling closed the game-clinching drive with a 4-yard scoring run up the middle with 7:41 to play.
“To be down the way we were, all the things that worked against us in the first half, and to come out and do what we do in the second half, what a great bunch of kids,” Kregel said.
On the ensuing possession, the ’Jackets forced a turnover on downs after Nate Patterson batted a fourth-and-five pass to the ground. Perrysburg ran out the final 4:34, sealing the unprecedented win.
“They’re the heart and soul of our team,” Kregel said of the defense. “They’re what makes the whole thing go. We have put up some points in the past on offense, a lot of it is because the defense gives us the ball right away.”
PERRYSBURG 28, AKRON ELLET 21
PERRYSBURG 7 6 8 7 —28
AKRON ELLET 7 14 0 0 —21
AE — Ivery, 47 run (Neal kick)
P — Durham, 91 kickoff return (Kaczinski kick)
AE — Ivery, 5 run (Neal kick)
AE — Burch, 25 run (Neal kick)
P — Dimmerling, 20 run (kick blocked)
P — Freeman, 31 pass from Dimmerling (Freeman pass from Dimmerling)
P — Dimmerling, 4 run (Kaczinski kick)
Category P AE
First downs 20 12
By rushing 7 9
By passing 12 3
By penalty 1 0
Total net yards 371 254
Rushing 148 221
Passing 223 33
Attempts 27 14
Completions 18 5
Interceptions 0 3
Punts/average 3/33.3 1/39
Penalties/yards 6/34 4/40
Fumbles/lost 1/1 0/0
RUSHING: (P) Dimmerling, 25-131; Llewellyn, 3-17; Delas, 2-2; Honsberger, 1-(minus 2). (AE) Ivery, 10-81; Geer, 10-49; Fisher, 11-39; Burch, 6-37; King, 1-15.
PASSING: (P) Dimmerling, 18-27-0—223. (AE) Fisher, 5-14-3—33.
RECEIVING: (P) Kaczinski, 7-111; Freeman, 5-68; Patterson, 2-14; Llewellyn, 1-9; Durham, 1-8; Honsberger, 1-7; Fleming, 1-6. (AE) Geer, 2-24; King, 2-10; Smethers, 1-(minus 1).