ST. PARIS – Sending its long-time public address announcer into retirement with style, Graham ended its season with a spirited victory over cross-county rival Urbana Friday night, 28-20.
Falconland’s “golden voice” Cliff Baughman called his final game, smiled broadly and laid down the microphone as a throng of Graham students swarmed the field to congratulate their team after the win.
The Falcon defense stood tough against a late-game threat from Urbana. Key sacks from Falcons Jacob Peters, Dillon Driskill and Allen St. Myers stymied the Hillclimbers as time drained away.
GHS dominated the tempo for most of the game, but Urbana showed it was able to send a scare through the home team, which led most of the night.
On Graham’s opening possession, Urbana’s Logan Rooney intercepted a Gage Braun pass at the Falcon 21.
A facemask penalty on the Falcons one play later gave UHS a first down at the Graham 8.
Tempers flared two plays later and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on UHS gave the Hillclimbers a third and goal at the 16.
Following an incomplete pass, Cooper Johnson booted a 33-yard field goal to give Urbana a 3-0 lead with 9:46 remaining in the first quarter.
Graham lost six yards on its ensuing possession, and UHS took over at the Graham 38 after a short punt.
Five plays later, UHS faced fourth and goal at the Graham 4, and quarterback Levi Boettcher was stopped just short of the goal line.
Graham took over at its own 1 and marched all the way to the Urbana 15, but a penalty and a sack pushed the Falcons backward.
The first quarter ended with Urbana on top, 3-0.
On fourth and 12 at the UHS 25, Braun connected with Tyler Powell on a 25-yard TD pass to give Graham a 7-3 lead, and the home team’s momentum had begun.
A 38-yard pass from Braun to Cody Reed later in the second quarter gave Graham a first down at the Urbana 5.
Stephen Dunham scored on the next play to give the Falcons a 14-3 lead with 5:39 remaining in the first half.
A Trace Smail 45-yard TD run two minutes later put the Falcons on top, 21-3.
Late in the first half, an interception by Urbana’s Luis Ramirez ended a Falcon drive.
Four plays later, a 65-yard touchdown pass from Boettcher to Nick Johnson with 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter made the score 21-10 in Graham’s favor at halftime.
In the third quarter, a Graham drive stalled on an incomplete pass to Powell in the end zone and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.
Starting at their own 24, the Hillclimbers completed a long pass fora first down at the Urbana 49 before Nick Johnson ran for another first down that was capped off by a late hit penalty against Graham. Urbana’s drive stalled on a completed pass that lost yardage, but a 42-yard field goal from Cooper Johnson narrowed the Graham lead to 21-13 with 2:20 to play in the third quarter.
Graham answered quickly and potently when Smail returned the kickoff all the way to the Urbana 19. Four plays later Dunham plowed in for an 8-yard TD with 8 seconds left in the third quarter. After the PAT from Ryan Thomas, Graham extended its lead to 28-13 heading to the final period.
Urbana showed its big-strike capabilities on a pair of long passes from Boettcher. A 28-yard pass to Nick Johnson put UHS at the Graham 25 and Devin Trent caught the next pass for a TD. The Hillclimbers were threatening, 28-20, with a whopping 10:42 to play.
Graham’s next drive stalled on a punt, but Urbana fumbled the punt return and Graham’s Dillon Driskill recovered the ball at the UHS 24 with 5:55 to play. The Falcons could not score and turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass to the end zone; but their defense denied Urbana consistently in the final minutes of the game to seal the victory.
Graham finishes the season with a 3-7 record while Urbana ends at 2-8.
Brenda Burns can be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1771 or on Twitter @UDCBurns.