EDON - There have been a lot of highs when it comes to this year’s Antwerp football season. Unfortunately, the successful season ended on a low Saturday evening with a 26-21 heartbreaking loss to Edon in the Division VII Region 26 quarterfinals.

“We followed the game plan exactly like we wanted to,” Antwerp head coach Jason Hale reflected. “Our guys did a great job of executing the game plan but we just came up a little short. I thought we played hard all game and battled until the end. That’s the thing I will remember the most … how well our guys played and how hard they battled.”

Trailing 20-14, Antwerp took its first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter after Landon Brewer intercepted a Drew Gallehue pass and returned it to the Edon 27 with seven minutes to play. On second-and-10, Brewer made a one-handed grab of a Carson Altimus pass for a 26-yard connection. Two plays later, Altimus hit paydirt from one yard out and Stephon Walker’s PAT kick put the Archers in front 21-20 with 5:29 remaining.

“Brewer had a great night on both sides of the ball,” Hale said of the sophomore standout. “We were able to get some momentum and we took advantage of it.”

After an Edon three-and-out, Antwerp was unable to move the ball and the Archers punted from their own 18-yard line. Gannon Ripke returned the kick for a touchdown, however, a penalty put the ball back on the 22 with three minutes to go.

The Antwerp defense stiffened and Edon faced a fourth-and-eight with 1:23 to go on the 19-yard line. After a timeout, Gallehue found Ripke for a 10-yard pass and with it a first down. Ripke then put the Bombers on top with a nine-yard TD run on the next play and Edon held on to improve to 11-1 and a regional semifinal matchup with Lima Central Catholic.

“Edon was able to make plays on fourth down and that helped them come out on top,” Hale noted. “They made a play and we didn’t get off the field on that play.

“After that, we got the ball to midfield but a penalty forced us back,” Hale continued. “We were trying to make a play there across the middle and set us up for a chance to take a shot.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Edon took a 6-0 lead following the second turnover of the game by Antwerp when Gallehue scored from one yard out to cap a 12-play drive.

The Archers tied the game at 6-6 when Altimus hit Brewer on a 34-yard strike to finish off a four-play, 70-yard drive. However, Edon regained the advantage at the halfway point of the second quarter when Gallehue threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Dye on third-and-10 for a 14-6 lead.

Antwerp evened the score at 14-all when Altimus rambled 27 yards to the end zone with 7:10 on the third-quarter clock and Parker Moore hauled in an Altimus pass for a two-point conversion. But it was not tied for long when Edon regained the lead at 20-14 on a 20-yard pass from Gallehue to Dye late in the third.

Gallehue, who two games ago became just the 12th quarterback in Ohio high school history to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards, finished the game 29-45 for 301 yards through the air with Dye hauling in nine for 91 yards. Ethan Steinke added five catches for 71 yards and Ripke totaled 53 yards on five receptions.

Altimus was 18-29 passing for 177 yards while adding 124 yards rushing on 14 attempts. Brewer caught seven balls for 106 yards while Moore ended with five receptions for 31 yards. Reid Lichty chipped in 47 yards on the ground on 12 carries for the Archers, which were beaten by Edon 41-26 back in week two.

“It was exciting to be part of this team,” Altimus said after the tough loss to end the season. “We worked hard on and off the field to have the success we had. We knew how good we could be during summer workouts in June and July and we were a close-knit team. We all played for each other and we had each other’s backs.

“The senior class showed great leadership and knew how to win,” the sophomore quarterback added. “Our goal for next year is to continue the winning tradition and prove ourselves again.”

One of those seniors that played a big role this year was Mason Steel.

“This season was amazing, I couldn’t be more thankful to have been a part of such an amazing team,” Steel said. “It was awesome to make it to the second round even though we feel like it ended sooner than we had hoped and thought it would. We showed a lot of people who had doubted us all season that we were for real and Antwerp football is here. Even though it was the last time I’ll play, I’m proud of a lot of things.”

Helping bring a winning tradition to the program means a lot to Steel and the rest of the Archers, in particular the group of 14 seniors that closed out their high school careers.

“I feel like my fellow seniors and I brought a new demeanor to the team,” Steel said. “We had made it a point since we were underclassmen that we wanted to turn the program around and make people respect us. Going into a lot of games this year we didn’t feel like a lot of people respected us and we used that each and every week as fuel to go out and prove them wrong.”

It brought a lot of memories along the way.

“My greatest memory of playing for coach Hale is probably after the games and trying to chase him down to dump water on him after we won,” Steel noted. “It was a long way to lift up the coolers. I’m also thankful for every coach we had this year because every single one of them spent a lot of time helping us prepare and getting us ready to be the best team we could be every week, putting us in the right spots to win every football game we played in. We couldn’t have done it without all of their dedication to us.”

With a final record of 9-3, it marks the second most wins in a season ever at Antwerp.

“This season means the world to me,” Hale concluded. “Our seniors did a great job of leading us to this point and laying the next step in the foundation of this program. Their work ethic and ability to come to practice every day and work hard really stands out.

“I’m thankful and feel blessed to be part of such a great team and program.”

SUMMARY

Antwerp 0 6 8 7 - 21

Edon 0 14 6 6 - 26

E - Gallehue 1-run (pass failed)

A - Brewer 34-pass from Altimus (kick failed)

E - Hayden Dye 10-pass from Gallehue (Ripke pass from Gallehue)

A - Altimus 27-run (Moore pass from Altimus)

E - Hayden Dye 20-pass from Gallehue (pass failed)

A - Altimus 1-run (Walker kick)

E - Ripke 9-run (pass failed)