After struggling to stop Garrett Nemire all night, Seneca East got the biggest stops when it needed.
The Tigers held Nemire to a two-yard pickup on 4th-and-3, sealing a 27-20 double overtime victory over Columbus Grove on Friday in a Division VI, Region 22 semifinal at Tiffin's Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
The stop came on the heels of big offensive possession by Seneca East. A holding penalty pushed the Tigers (11-1) back to start the drive. But, Chase Foos hit DJ Ruffling for 10 yards, and Blaine Swartzmiller picked up four yards on a first down.
Swartzmiller then ran for six yards before scoring from three yards out. Tyler Turek added the extra point for a 27-20 lead.
Blake Reynolds' pass to Trevor Taylor netted no yards for the Bulldogs (8-4) on the first play of double overtime for Grove. Nemire picked up three yards and four yards before the stop ended the game.
Seneca East had a chance to end the game in the first overtime. Swartzmiller picked up 14 yards on 3rd-and-11 for a first down at the seven-yard. The Tigers would settle for a 22-yard field goal try that was blocked by Columbus Grove, sending the game into a second overtime.
Seneca East also missed out on an opportunity to win the game in regulation. The Tigers went 80 yards in 13 plays - all rushes - to attack the Bulldogs relentlessly. The drive featured a heavy dose of Swartzmiller. In the end, the 6-foot-3 senior scored on a nine-yard rush to tie the game at 20 with 3:05 left.
But, with the chance to take the lead on the extra point, that is when things got weird. The snap was fumbled, but the ball was picked up and thrown into the end zone and completed. It appeared as though the mishap had turned into a two-point conversion, but the referees ruled the ball down before the throw was eben attempted.
Grove drove to the Seneca East 22-yard line on the ensuing drive, running Nemire on seven straight plays before an incomplete pass ended the drive.
The Bulldogs opened the game's scoring, picking up chunks of yards on nearly every play. Nemire had runs of 11 and 16 yards before Reynolds completed a 24-yard pass to Caleb Barrientes. Later, Nemire rumbled in from a yard out for a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers responded later in the first quarter. Foos threw a 25-yard pass to Collan Martin and ended the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Swartzmiller to tie the game.
Seneca East seized control of the first half mid-way through the second quarter. Foos tossed a swing pass out to Ruffing, who made defender after defender miss and sprinted for a 53-yard touchdown.
The Tigers then recovered the ensuing onside kick, building even more momentum. Seneca East got the ball inside the Grove red zone and even as close as the seven-yard line, but an incomplete pass out of the back of the end zone ended the first half.
The Bulldogs tied the game with their first possession of the second half. Grove went 84 yards in 11 plays, capped by a seven-yard touchdown run by Nemire to tie the game at 14.
The Tigers fumbled on their next possession and Grove quickly took advantage. Nemire picked up 7, 13, and 14 yards before scoring on a two-yard run. The extra point was no good with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Nemire finished with 38 carries for 220 yards.
Swartzmiller ran 34 times for 150 yards.