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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 08, 2017 11:40 pm

New Haven 35, Leo 33

New QB sparks New Haven over Leo in OT

MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette

 

LEO-CEDARVILLE – Other than getting on the field to kick a handful of punts, Tim Jordan spent much of his Friday night on the New Haven sideline watching his teammates struggle against a Leo team that seemingly took advantage of every Bulldog mistake.

When Jordan got a chance to get on the field, he turned those mistakes into some near-flawless play at quarterback and rallied the Bulldogs to a 35-33 victory in overtime over the host Lions.

When Jordan, a junior, entered with 8:52 left to play, New Haven trailed 27-14 and appeared in jeopardy of seeing its nine-game winning streak in NE8 play come to an end.

It was at that point that New Haven coach Jim Rowland decided to pull starting quarterback Bryan Sexton.

“I had a lot of time on the sidelines to talk to Tim about what he needed to do,” Rowland said. “Tim’s as cool as a cucumber. He came in, even the hitches, he was throwing with authority, getting the ball out there quick so our guys could make a play. He really grew up a lot tonight.”

On Jordan’s second play, he found Kentrel Thomas open over the middle, where the junior made a splendid one-handed catch for a 17-yard gain. More importantly, it put a bounce in the Bulldogs’ steps that hadn’t been there all night.

“That really kind of woke us up a little bit,” Rowland said. “From that point on we started executing our game plan.”

Six plays later, Jordan hit James Gardner on a 15-yard scoring play that cut the deficit to 27-21 with 6:45 to go.

The Bulldogs (4-0 overall, 2-0 in the NE8), got the ball back with 4:27 to play, but had 95 yards to go to the end zone. Jordan quickly led his team to the Leo 28, but an offensive pass interference call and a sack by Leo’s Jayden Elwood pushed New Haven back to the 47 and facing fourth-and-29.

Jordan, who completed 15-of-17 passes for 173 yards in the final 8:52, went in the huddle and knew he had three or four guys who could snare the ball if he threw it up for them to go get.

“I was just like, 'Come on guys, this is big play, the crowd’s going crazy, we’ve got to step up',” Jordan said. “I just threw it up there in triple coverage. Go deep and see who’s open. Daryce (Jackson) came down with it. It was a great catch.”

Jordan’s heave down the left side indeed went into a crowd, but it was Jackson who came down with it somehow, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Leo 3.

Gardner picked up two yards and then Antwone Washington, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound linemen who Rowland says runs a 4.8 40, pounded his way into the end zone to tie it at 27-27.

New Haven got the ball first in overtime and scored on fourth-and-five when Jordan rolled to his right and found Thomas diving across the end zone. The Bulldogs went for two points and got it when Jordan found Gardner cutting across to give them a 35-27 lead.

Leo (2-2, 1-1) answered with a touchdown as A.J. Restivo connected with Burkely Yoder from four yards out.

The Lions needed a two-point conversion to send the game to a second overtime, but a false start penalty pushed them back to the 8 and then Restivo’s pass was tipped, sending the Bulldogs sprinting toward their sideline in celebration.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Leo because they played a phenomenal football game, but we were hurting ourselves,” said Rowland, whose team trailed 17-0 eight minutes into the game.

“We just felt if we could get back to playing Bulldog football, we’d get back in the game.

When we get it going we’re awfully good, but sometimes I don’t know how to get us going.”

Rowland eventually found out how, moving Jordan from the sideline to the field.