MIDVALE -- Friday night proved to be one for the record books for Indian Valley High with a thrilling 25-21 comeback victory over the Bloom Carroll High Bulldogs in a Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV Region 13 quarterfinal gridiron match-up at Kelley Field.
The host Braves ,who entered postseason play for the third consecutive season, picked up the first-ever playoff victory in Indian Valley school history with a clutch play late in the contest.
"This was a big win for our program," Indian Valley coach Matt Lancaster said. "Our kids played their hearts out tonight and we're already looking forward to next week."
Trailing 21-18, the Braves went to a little trickery to score the winning touchdown on a 15-yard halfback pass from junior Jake Davis to senior Logan Ryan with just 53 seconds left.
That big play capped a clutch six-play, 69-yard drive to produce the winning TD.
"That was just a great play by two talented young men," Lancaster explained. "Jake and Logan are two clutch players. We expect them to make plays for us and they usually come through."
Bloom-Carroll got one last drive, but Ryan intercepted Milliser's desperation pass at the one-yard line to preserve the win and send Kelley Field into a frenzy.
"Our defense played lights-out, especially in that first half, but our defense came to play tonight," said Lancaster.
The night got off to a rough start for the host Braves, as the visiting Bulldogs returned the opening kickoff for an 82-yard return by Dylan Jude with 11:48 left in the opening quarter for an early 7-0 lead.
Indian Valley was quick to respond, reeling off a 13-play, 61-yard scoring march which was capped by senior QB Brady Byers' 16-yard sprint to pay dirt with 5:03 remaining in the first stanza. A bad snap on the PAT kick produced a miss, leaving the Braves trailing by a 7-6 margin.
The Braves would take a 12-7 lead to the halftime break with the only score of the second period.
Indian Valley would put together a eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive to close out the first half of action, with Byers hooking up with Ryan on a 38-yard completion for the key play of the drive. Byers would connect with sophomore Ross Love on a short three-yard TD pass for the TD with just 20.6 seconds left.
Bloom-Carroll regained the lead with their opening possession of the second half. The Bulldogs needed just five plays to move 69 yards for the touchdown, with senior QB Kelly Milliser hitting Tyler Sorg with a 31-yard TD pass with 8:12 left in the third quarter, a missed PAT kick left Bloom-Carroll with a slim 13-12 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Braves again answered with a patented 14-play, 46-yard drive to reach the end zone as Davis scored from the four-yard line at the 7:27 mark of the fourth period, the extra point try failed again, giving Indian Valley an 18-13 advantage.
Aided by a fake punt, it was Bloom-Carroll's turn to answer, with Milliser hooking up with Alex Peirano from 11 yards out to give Bloom-Carroll the 21-18 lead after the two-point conversion pass with 2:49 left in the game.
However, Indian Valley (9-2) again had the big-time answer to collect the victory and advance to meet Philo on Friday night at 7:30 at a site to be determined. Philo advanced with a 30-7 victory over John Glenn.
Byers finished with 130 yards on 16 carries to lead Indian Valley ground game, with Davis adding 125 on 29 attempts and Ryan added 48 yards on 15 totes. Byers hit on 7-of-9 passes for 126 yards, with Davis connecting on 1-of-2 pass attempts including the game-winning 14-yard completion. Ryan hauled in five receptions for 92 yards including the game-winning catch for the Braves.
Bloom-Carroll (6-5) was paced by Milliser with 59 yards rushing on nine carries, Peters contributed 49 on 10 totes and Peirano chipped in with 48 on seven attempts. Milliser finished with a 6-of-15 passing performance for 64 yards.
"Tonight was just a great high school game between two good football teams," Lancaster said. "I don't see how you could ask for anymore.
"We knew coming in it would be a dogfight and it was," he added. "I'm just glad we were able to come out on top."