By Ken [email protected]

He not only liked the fact that his team came away with a conference victory last week, but head Lehman coach Dick Roll loved the way his Cavaliers did it.

They trailed host Lima Perry with under three minutes to go when they started a drive a good 80 yards from paydirt. And with just seconds remaining, Jake Earhart capped a drive that was all on the ground by getting in the endzone to give the Cavs a 28-25 thriller and their second win in their last three outings.

The victory not only kept them alive in the Northwest Central Conference, but also put them back in the playoff picture. They are 13th this week and need only reach the top eight to make it to postseason.

“The kids showed some character there,” said Roll of the winning TD drive last week. “That’s important… we’re a young team and maybe that’s a sign we’re growing up.”

Earhart rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries in the win, giving him 421 yards rushing for the season.

“In our two wins, Jake has basically carried us,” said Roll. “He had a pick and some important yards near the end of the Graham game, and last week he had a big game.”

And quarterback Stephen Monnin had a huge scramble on the winning drive last week that went for about 25 yards and put the Cavs near the goal line. In addition, he threw for 106 yards.

“We were fortunate to win, but it was no fluke,” Roll said. “I said going into the season that this three-game stretch would be a real test for us (Upper Scioto, Perry and Riverside). I thought last week these were the three toughest teams in the league at the time and we had to play them back-to-back-to-back.”

This week may provide the biggest challenge of all as the Cavs travel to nearby DeGraff to take on the 5-0 Pirates. Not only would a win keep the Cavaliers in the thick of the NWCC chase, but it would greatly enhance their playoff possibilities, since Riverside is fourth this week in the same region as Lehman.

Tops on the list Friday, says Roll, is stopping the running game. Riverside goes to the air rarely, attempting just 22 passes all season so far.

The Pirates have a crunching ground game, led by 5-foot-11, 205-pound Connor Cotterman, who is well on his way to a thousand-yard season, standing at 638. He’s gone over 100 yards in four of the Pirates’ five games.

And keeping defenses from keying too much on him is Hayden Robinson, who has rushed for 327 yards.

“They remind me of our team about eight years ago with Jacobs and Goins,” said Roll. “They want to control the ball, and that’s what Upper Scioto did to us (28-20 loss). We have to stop Cotterman and Robinson, and when we get an opportunity on offense, we have to take advantage.”

NWCC standings — Riverside 2-0 (5-0), Upper Scioto Valley 2-0 (3-2), Hardin Northern 1-1 (3-2), Lehman 1-1 (2-3), Lima Perry 1-1 (1-4), Fort Loramie 1-1 (1-4), Ridgemont 0-2 (1-4), Waynesfield 0-2 (0-5).

Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818

Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818