’Berg’s trickery fuels Princes to rout of Otterbein

PHOTO SUBMITTED Heidelberg’s Tayy Yearby runs past an Otterbein defender Saturday at Hoernemann Stadium in Tiffin.

Heidelberg coach Scott Donaldson said he didn’t know it was coming.

His team was leading Otterbein 21-0 with about eight minutes left in the first half Saturday night at Hoernemann Stadium. The Student Princes had the ball at the Cardinals 21.

“I didn’t know we were gonna run it,” Donaldson said of the play that followed. “I just flipped open the phones, and coach (Jason) Lewis goes ‘watch this.'”

What HU’s offensive coordinator was referring to was a play where quarterback Jimmy Gephart took the snap in shotgun and went right, then flipped it to Dimitri Penick, who was going left.

Then Penich met receiver Maceo Matthews, who was running right, a few yards behind him.

They exchanged the ball, and Matthews looked to pass. He lofted the ball near the Otterbein 5, where Nick Cofer caught it and rambled into the end zone.

“Since Monday, we’ve been working on that play, but my coach, my receivers coach, coach (Lewis) thought it wasn’t gonna work,” Matthews said after Heidelberg beat Otterbein, 52-35. “But me being a perfect quarterback, I put it right where (Nick Cofer) needed it at.”

Heidelberg led 28-0.

“That was huge for momentum,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, getting a trick play, they don’t always have a great success rate. It’s huge for momentum, and getting the crowd into things, especially right before the half.”

Heidelberg led 31-0 after a 31-yard field goal by Branden Steckel with 1:44 left in the half. Otterbein answered just before the break when Reed Tucker hauled in a 29-touchdown pass from Logan Pharmer.

Still, Heidelberg held a commanding 31-6 lead at the half.

“Coach Lewis and coach (Branden Jakubcin) put a great gameplan together,” Donaldson said. “We executed it really well early, came out on fire, and we did an unbelievable job with that. That’s really all it was. We executed the gameplan to perfection…early. Then didn’t late.”

In the first half, Gephart ran for a 9-yard touchdown, and threw TD passes to Penick and and Keivon Belcher. In the second half, he connected with Matthews for a touchdown. He finished with 380 passing yards. He ran for 37 yards and was intercepted twice.

“Jimmy was phenomenal,” Donaldson said. “He made some plays with his legs. Threw a couple of picks, but that’s gonna happen now and again, as often as we throw. We were ready for that, but Jimmy did a great job spreading the ball around. A lot of guys got catches today, so he got a lot of people active very early.”

The second half was rough for Heidelberg. Luke Schmeling ran in two touchdowns for the Cardinals, and Pharmer connected with Jack Iannarino on a five-yard TD completion.

When Schmeling scored his second touchdown, Heidelberg’s lead was down to 38-28 with 8:32 left in regulation.

“We didn’t execute, to be honest with you. Our guys didn’t execute,” Donaldson said. “I don’t know if they thought the game was over…I’ll have to watch the film. We did not execute in the second half on offense or on defense.

“We’ve gotta get that fixed pretty quickly.”

But Heidelberg wrapped the game up with two late touchdown runs by Montavious Yearby. Yearby was a workhorse Saturday. He ran the ball 25 times for 144 yards. Meanwhile, Belcher caught 10 passes for 136 yards. His biggest was a 67-yard TD reception in the first half. Cofer had six catches for 87 yards.

Heidelberg improved to 5-1, 4-1 OAC. Otterbein fell to 0-5, 0-4.

Pharmer, a freshman, played well at times in his first start. He completed 25 of 43 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. His final pass of the game was his second touchdown completion to Tucker. Tucker finished with nine catches for 126 yards. Schmeling ran 10 times for 79 yards.

Heidelberg’s defense finished with six tackles for a loss. Tramon Wiley, Barry Middleton and Jacob Gerlak each intercepted Pharmer.

Now, Heidelberg will prepare for a home game next week against the No. 2 team in the nation, Mount Union.

“We’re looking forward to the matchup,” Matthews said.