The Tigers scored in the final seconds to pull out a 35-32 win.
By JOHN BUTERA
EAST PALESTINE -- Like a pair of gunslingers from the Old West, Springfield's Andrew Schuler and East Palestine's Zac Dunn staged a big time shoot out Friday night and when the dust had cleared it was Schuler's Tigers coming out with a thrilling 35-32 win.
Trailing 32-27 with but 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining, Schuler led Springfield the length of the field, hitting Mike Kampfer from 30 yards out for the winning touchdown. Kampfer beat double coverage on the play as Springfield went ahead 35-32 with 0:35 to go.
"If you look at the film," said East Palestine coach Darren Miller, "you'll see that we had it played perfectly. It was just a great play by a great athlete to go up there and get it."
Schuler's heroics overshadowed the effort of the Dunn, who turned in one of the best games in school history. He rallied his team from behind four times and scored as both a runner and passer.
He rushed for 139 yards on 17 carries while scoring three times and he completed 13-of-18 passes for 162 yards.
"Everyone took it up to another level," said Dunn. "The offensive line really stepped it up tonight. We just needed a little more from our defense."
Schuler, meanwhile, was 18-of-24 for 236 yards passing and two touchdowns, he scored once on the ground.
Tigers set tone
Springfield set the tone on the game's second play when sophomore Nathan Schuler rushed for a 62-yard score just 12 seconds into the contest.
Dunn answered moments later on a fourth-and-1, covering the distance from 29 yards.
"I was just looking to move the sticks," Dunn said. "But then I saw a nice opening."
East Palestine never punted, never had a three and out and in the second half held a 16:00-8:00 edge in time of possession.
In a preview of their game winning drive, Springfield worked the two-minute drill to perfection to end the first half.
Down 13-12 with 2:20 remaining, the Tigers needed just 1:08 to take a 20-13 halftime lead. Schuler completed back-to-back passes for 46 and 12 yards before scoring himself from 1 yard.
"We did it just before the half," Springfield coach John Smith said of the winning drive. "Our offensive coordination expected us to down there and score."
Takes the lead
East Palestine, who used 8:05 of the third period clock and 8:15 in the fourth, looked to have a hold on things when Dunn fashioned a 63-yard drive to score with 1:43 remaining. The talented senior used a mix of passes and running plays and even recovered from a penalty to fire a twice-tipped, go-ahead touchdown pass to Joe Thompson from 34 yards.
"Dunn was questioning his performance after out first two games," said Miller. "But he sure showed his senior leadership tonight. He really stepped it up."