Gibsonburg’s Cam Mooney tied the game Saturday with a conversion run with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left to play.
The six-seed Golden Bears fell 35-27 to unbeaten two-seed Antwerp in a regional semifinal at Liberty Center’s Rex Lingruen Stadium in Division VII’s Region 26.
Gibsonburg (10-3) tied the game 27-27 after Connor Smith ran in from the 3 for his third touchdown. Antwerp’s Reid Lighty capped the ensuing drive from the 1 with his third touchdown with 1:14 remaining.
“We prepared to play a great team in Antwerp and went out there and left everything we had on the field,” Smith said. “We fell short, but I’m beyond proud of every single person that is a part of our football program.”
The Golden Bears responded to Antwerp’s first two touchdowns with scoring runs covering 4 and 8 yards from Smith. Gibsonburg trailed 21-19 as Mooney ran in from the 7 with 50 seconds left in the first half, but Altimus tossed a touchdown pass 41 seconds later.
Altimus completed 22 of 35 passes for 379 yards. Antwerp had 109 yards on 24 carries.
Neither team scored in the third quarter.
Smith had 287 yards on 32 tries. He rushed for 921 yards and 10 touchdowns on 104 carries in three postseason games.
He rushed for 3,432 yards in 13 games as a senior, unofficially fourth all-time in Ohio for a single season. Only Canal Winchester Harvest Prep’s Daniel Bangura (4,128 in 2016), Johnstown-Monroe’s Ross Franklin (3,472 in 2011) and Bedford St. Peter Chanel’s Tony Franklin (3,439 in 2001) had more.
Smith finished with 6,928 yards rushing for his career, which is unofficially 14th all time in state history.
“Over my career, I wanted to leave something that would never be forgotten,” he said. “And with all my teammates, I’d say we all did that. I wanted to inspire the younger guys coming up and hopefully I did that. I’ll forever cherish my moments as a Golden Bear.”
He scored 100 touchdowns, including 98 on the ground in his career, which unofficially ties him for 15th on Ohio’s list. He had 47 touchdowns this season, unofficially 14th all-time in the state and 19 more than his single-season program record from last season.
His 47 touchdowns rushing are sixth all-time for a single season. He’s tied for 12th with 98 scores on the ground for his career.
He’s in the top 20 for points in a career and season.
Martin Myerholtz, Cam Waugaman, Andrew Ickes, Daniel Frost, Alex Porteous, Kollin Bruns, Bryson Stevens and Jamason Ritchie are also seniors on the roster.
“I couldn’t have asked for any one of our guys to do anything more [Saturday],” Smith said. “They all played with everything they had, including myself.”
Gibsonburg won two games in the postseason for the first time in program history. It lost in the first round last season to finish 7-3.
It was 5-5 after winning a playoff matchup when the schedule was reconfigured because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Golden Bears were unbeaten Sandusky Bay Conference River Division champs, but didn’t qualify to the postseason when Smith was a freshman.
“Growing up it was always about playing Friday night lights and playing with your brothers,” Smith said. “No matter what happened on the field, we all wanted to do great things with each other. I’ll remember the days with the guys putting in work to become who we wanted to be on and off the field.
“That’s what I’ll remember most.”