PIQUA — Despite a career performance by receiver Brendan O’Leary, Lehman Catholic’s bid for its first win came up short Friday night as the Cavaliers dropped a 26-20 heartbreaker to Graham at Alexander Stadium.
It looked like Lehman would have decent field position in a 20-20 tie late in the fourth quarter, but Graham’s Brady King launched a 54-yard punt that pinned Lehman back at its 3-yard line.
Two plays later, on a bad snap, Graham’s Garrett Spriggs fell on the lose ball in the end zone for a touchdown, giving Graham a 26-20 lead with 2:45 remaining. Lehman blocked the PAT kick, but the Cavaliers’ final two drives ended in an interception and turning it over on downs.
O’Leary was unstoppable all night, catching eight passes for 207 yards as RJ Bertini passed for 286 yards completing 17-of-27 passes.
Lehman had driven deep into Graham territory on its opening drive of the game, but Graham recovered a fumble at its 20-yard line to end the drive.
The drive included a 19-yard pass from Bertini to Gabe Knapke.
Graham, led by the running and passing of King, put a drive together of its own.
King had a 20-yard run on the drive and threw 22 yards to Ryan Turner to set up first-and-goal at the nine-yard line.
But on fourth-and-goal from the five, King was stopped for no gain.
Lehman then put together a 95-yard drive to be the first team on the scoreboard.
A defensive holding penalty on Graham extended the drive.
Following a 10-yard run by Drew Barhorst for another first down, Bertini hooked up with O’Leary near midfield and O’Leary outraced the Falcon defense to complete a 66-yard TD play. The PAT kick failed, giving Lehman a 6-0 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Barhorst then had a 76-yard punt on Lehman’s next possession to pin Graham at its own 6-yard line.
Two Lehman penalties extended the drive.
King completed passes of 18 and 10 yards to Hunter Collier and an 11-yarder to Zack Vannoy to set up first down at the Lehman 47.
After scrambling, King found open field and raced all the way to the end zone. The PAT failed, leaving the game tied 6-6 with 5:09 remaining in the half.
Lehman would then put together a time consuming drive that would eat up the rest of the half.
Bertini had a 20-yard pass to Landon McIver on the drive and converted a fourth-and-one with a three-yard run.
After Barhorst ran six yards to the Graham nine for a first-and-goal, Lehman picked up a personal foul, moving the ball back to the 24-yard line.
Bertini and O’Leary hooked up on an 18-yard pass, but on fourth-and-goal from the two on the final play of the half, Graham stuffed a running play for no gain to keep it 6-6 at the break.
Jason Howard took the second-half kickoff 81 yards and Turner added the PAT kick to make it 13-6 when the game was stopped by lightning.
When the game resumed, Graham’s Turner intercepted on the first play after the kickoff to Lehman.
Lehman was able to get the tying score when O’Leary caught a 21-yard TD pass from Bertini with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter and Ethan Potts kick made it 13-13.
Graham came back with King delivering a 28-yard touchdown strike to Riley Fritts and Turner’s kick was good to make it 20-13 with 9:33 to go.
O’Leary answered with a spectacular play to tie the game again on his third TD of the night.
Bertini threw across the middle and O’Leary made a spectacular one-handed catch and raced 40 yards into the end zone to complete a 65-yard touchdown. Potts kick tied it 20-20 with 4:14 to go, setting up the heartbreaking finish.
King was a two-way threat for Graham (2-1) all night, completing 13 of 27 passes for 159 yards and rushing for 102 yards on 15 carries.
Lehman (0-3) will be back in action next Friday looking for its first win of the season when it travels to Riverside (1-2) to open Northwest Central Conference play.