MIDDLETOWN — Eric Schroeder doesn’t consider his game-winning touchdown run against Lakota East on Friday his biggest of the season – never mind his life – but it was big enough.
The Middletown senior running back scored on a 24-yard run with 6 seconds left to lift the Middies to a 21-14 win over winless Lakota East in a Greater Miami Conference game on Cris Carter Field at Barnitz Stadium.
“I just got out in the open and bounced it and the rest is history,” said Schroeder, who gained 94 yards on 17 carries, but considers his 76-yard touchdown run in the season-opening non-conference win over Loveland to be bigger. “I just wanted to celebrate with my teammates in the end zone.
The win snaps a two-game Middies GMC losing streak – both on the road – during which they gave up a combined 70 points. They are 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the GMC for the first time since they opened the 2011 season with a 10-1 record.
Middletown already has equaled its win total from last season.
“It’s a huge win,” coach Don Simpson said. “Coming home – it helps us see what we’re made of. It showed us that we can be resilient.”
Schroeder’s touchdown was his second in the last 4:02. He scored the game-tying touchdown on a 5-yard run after junior defensive lineman Tray Tillis tipped and then picked off a Jamison Kitna pass on fourth-and-three at Middletown’s 24 with 9:59 left in the game. He returned it to the East 48.
Schroeder’s go-ahead score came after junior quarterback Talan Malicote went 30 yards down the left sideline in front of the Middletown bench on third-and-10 from the Thunderhawk 46.
Malicote was playing for the injured Jeremiah Landers and finished with 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
“Nobody on our staff thought he couldn’t do the job,” Simpson said.
Lakota fell to 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the GMC in its first season under former Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna as coach. His son, junior quarterback Jamison Kitna, scored both Thunderhawk touchdowns while sophomore running back Ryder Hooks gained 123 yards on 17 carries, but Lakota East was penalized 11 times for 81 yards.
The Middies’ game-tying drive was kept alive by an offsides penalty on Lakota East on fourth-and-two at the Thunderhawks’ 29.
“Too many turnovers, too many penalties — bad penalties,” Jon Kitna said. “That a recipe for disaster.”
Lakota East is 0-5 for the first time since 2009 .
The Thunderhawks scored on their first possession with Jamison Kitna completing a 14-play drive on a 3-yard run with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
The Middies overcame a fumble that was recovered by Lakota East senior linebacker Marvin Richter on their next possession with a fumble recovery of their own. Senior linebacker-tight end Gabe Terrell forced a Lakota East fumble that junior running back-linebacker Lemondte Chambers recovered at the Middletown 45, and the Middies converted with an eight-play drive capped by Malicote’s 5-yard keeper around left end with 4:51 left in the first half.
Middletown had a chance to take the lead in the last minute before halftime after senior Daelyn Jamison’s 40-yard burst was enhanced by a 15-yard penalty on the Thunderhawks for unnecessary roughness, but Lakota East junior defensive back Enzo Tchetgnia came up with an interception in the end zone with 25 seconds left.
Jamison Kitna gave Lakota East the lead with 9-yard run with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
“Nobody was down,” Schroeder said. “We knew we could come back. There was a lot of positivity.”