TIPTON — Brodie Kilburn might awaken with a bruise on his left forearm.
Call it a badge of honor.
Kilburn blocked a potential game-tying extra-point kick Friday night at Diedrichsen Field, helping preserve West Liberty’s 14-13 victory over Tipton, giving the Comets the Class 2A District 5 football championship.
“I’ve really never come close to blocking one before,” said Kilburn, who crashed and penetrated the corner of the Tigers’ line and got a hand on the ball. “Our defense came up clutch. We relied on them and rode that to the win.”
West Liberty (6-3 overall, 4-1 district) tied for first place in the district with Tipton (6-3, 4-1) and earned the automatic bid by winning the head-to-head meeting. The Comets advance to the playoffs for the 11th time (the third year in a row) and is a likely first-round host next Friday against an opponent to be determined Saturday morning.
The Comets reached the 2A semifinals last year, lost 12 seniors, then earned another district title by closing the regular season with four straight wins.
“We lost a hell of a group, and that made it challenging,” Comets Coach Jason Iske said. “But this is what we strived for.”
Tipton’s fate as a potential at-large playoff qualifier will be determined later Friday night.
West Liberty quarterback Talen Dengler passed for a touchdown, ran for another and intercepted a pass that led to the go-ahead score.
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“We had an outside linebacker drop back, and I was playing the center of the field,” Dengler said. “I was able to get up and get it.”
That pick, and the 36-yard return that followed it, gave the Comets the ball at the Tipton 13-yard line. After the Comets were stopped for a 2-yard loss, Dengler dropped back, then scrambled up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown.
“(Kobe) Simon gave me the fade sign, we were going to run a fade,” Dengler said. “But the safety followed him and everything opened up the middle and I decided, ‘Everything is in my hands now.’”
That gave West Liberty a 14-7 advantage late in the third quarter. Tipton started its final scoring drive with 8:32 left, capping a 78-yard march with Frank Bierman’s 7-yard run with 3:16 left.
But Kilburn got his arm on the PAT, preserving the lead, and eventually the win.
After holding the Comets on fourth-and-1 at the Tipton 27, the Tigers drew first blood, marching 73 yards in 12 plays.
A 17-yard run by Connor Hermiston gave Tipton first and goal at the 2, and the Tigers finally cashed in when Austin Lenz scored on a 1-yard run.
West Liberty answered immediately through the air. Dengler hit Jahsiah Galvan-Batie for 34 yards to start the drive. Two plays later, Dengler connected with Gavin Chown for a 26-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7, and it remained that way at halftime.
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