Drexel has two losses this season, both to rival Midway.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Oct. 31 Class 1 regional 38-20 loss was the end of their season.
“They counter us very well,” Drexel head coach Nate Danneman said. “Defensively, we are not a smash-mouth stopping defense. We are more of a finesse style defense. We just don’t have the size for it. Like the first half, we did a really good job slowing them down, but it just starts taking a toll on us. The kids got beat up a little bit...They just don’t stop. That’s who they are. That’s what they do. I give it up to coach (Larry) Burchett. He has an offensive line that I would put up against anybody.”
In the first quarter, at the 3:46 minute mark, Drexel junior quarterback Javyn Johnston broke free from defenders and scored on a 72-yard run. The point after kick went wide, but the Bobcats led 6-0.
But less than a minute later, Midway responded as junior running back Bobby Zielinski escaped some tackles to run the ball 61 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings point after kick was good, giving Midway a 7-6 advantage.
In the second quarter, the Bobcats scored again, this time on an 11-yard pass from Johnston to senior wide receiver CJ Bolton. Senior wide receiver Cody Russell caught a two-point conversion pass to put Drexel ahead at 14-7.
Once again, the Vikings retaliated. This time, led by junior quarterback Peyton Semsch and sophomore running back Clay Dahman, Midway pushed down the field with Semsch capping off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown carry. The point after kick sailed wide though, keeping the Bobcats ahead at 14-13 at halftime.
“I really wanted to give the boys a win, not just myself,” Dahman said. “(I wanted to) make sure the whole team felt good about tonight. It’s not about me, it’s about the whole team.”
But the second half went lopsided in favor of the Vikings as Dahman scored on a 12-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and Semsch scored on a 3-yard run before the fourth quarter.
“I think that really, we stopped them on defense when it really counted,” Dahman said. “And we punched it right to them when we needed to on offense.”
Drexel didn’t change it’s offense, relying on Johnston to get the Bobcats down the field, they just didn’t click.
“We just weren’t clicking nearly as well,” Danneman said of the second half. “I think we just got tired. We were a little sluggish, a little slow on the breaks. They have a lot of big boys and they just keep rotating them in there. They kept constant pressure on our guys up front. I have six guys up front and that’s it, offensively and defensively. It just takes a toll on them.”
Semsch scored again for Midway early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run to put the Vikings ahead at 31-14. The Bobcats finally found their groove again as sophomore running back Tyler Allen punched in a score from 11 yards out to close the gap to 31-20.
But on Midway’s next drive, the Vikings’ Zielinski scored on a 25-yard run, sealing Midway’s victory.
“They just pound on you,” Danneman said of the Viking offense. “They literally just pound on you. We have had, the past three weeks, we have had games when we scored 60 points. We played a half of a football game for three weeks and I think you can tell. You can only do so much in practice, after playing a half of a game, you don’t get the physical pounding. You can’t mimic it.”
Drexel ends the season with a 9-2 record. In Danneman’s two years as head coach, the Bobcats have put up a 17-4 record.
“It’s a good season,” Danneman said. “...It’s not the way we wanted to end each one, but heck, 17 wins and four losses isn’t bad. We have played against some good competition. I’m proud of them. It’s a good season and there is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Midway, 9-2, faces Skyline, 9-2, in the Class 1 sectional (district championship) game at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5.