Long recognized as one of the greatest rivalries in area history, something was missing in recent years from the St. Paul-Monroeville series: A great finish.
That ended Saturday night at Marsh Field as the two Firelands Conference opponents went back-and-forth in one of the more memorable games between the two as Ryan Stower's 1-yard quarterback sneak on third-and-goal with 1:35 left gave the Eagles a 21-17 win.
Entering the game, the winner was assured a spot in the playoffs, while the loser was going to finish on the outside looking in at ninth. With the win, the Eagles improved to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the FC and will travel to Thompson Ledgemont (10-0) in a Division VI Region 21 quarterfinal Friday night.
St. Paul finishes the season at 7-3, 5-2. It is the first time since 2002 the Flyers missed the playoffs while Monroeville makes it's eighth appearance since 2000.
The Flyers had won five straight in the series, including a playoff game in 2007. In Week 10 a year ago, the Eagles needed a win to get in the playoffs but fell, 49-14.
"I think we were tired of nobody having confidence in us in this game," Stower said. "I think this is big for the community and I guess the monkey is off our back.
"St. Paul is always a great program, and if you beat them it's an accomplishment. They are all hard-working, nice kids."
The Flyers took a 10-7 lead on a 21-yard field goal by Scottie Slauterbeck with 5:51 left in the third quarter. St. Paul used almost nine minutes of the clock on 19 plays to set up the score.
Monroeville answered with a 7-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Stower to Skylar Olds with no time left in the third quarter. Cory Smith's second of three extra points made it 14-10 in favor of the Eagles.
St. Paul answered with another lengthy and impressive drive, marching 71 yards on 14 plays while using over half the fourth quarter. Isaac Livengood bulled in from a yard out with 5:51 left in the game for a 17-14 Flyer lead.
Things looked bleak for the Eagles with four minutes left as Dan Periat elected to go for it on fourth-and-5 from their own 30. In a mix up, Stower's pass sailed high and nobody was within 20 yards for a critical turnover on downs.
However, the Eagle defense forced the Flyers off the field in four plays to get the ball back at it's 25 with 3:44 left and no timeouts.
"You have to let it all hang out," Periat said. "We decided that before the game we were going to take all the chances we have to take. We knew without chances, we weren't going to win.
"We didn't get it and you have to deal with the consequences, but the defensive stand there was unbelievable."
Faced with another fourth-and-10 at their own 35 with 2:44 left, Stowers connected with Justin Jones for a 38-yard gain and immediately hit Olds for 26 more yards to the 1. It took three plays to get the yard, but Stower then slipped in for the winning points.
The Flyers had one more chance with a fourth-and-15 inside of a minute left, but a Joe Hinckley pass to Shawn Dankleson was measured a foot short of the marker at the Monroeville 49 to end the game.
"I thought it would be a hard fought and both teams played really well," St. Paul coach John Livengood said. "I'm as proud as I can be with our kids. They left it all on the field. I'm disappointed we lost, but all you can ask as a coach is for them to play as hard as they can.
"Did we make some mistakes? Yes. But they played as hard as they could, and that's the most important thing. I'm proud of the way we conducted ourselves, and we congratulate Monroeville. They had their kids step up and make plays when they needed to."
St. Paul took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter as Hinckley scored on a four-yard run to cap a 9-play, 51-yard drive.
The Eagles answered on a third-and-6 from their 34 as Cory Long's halfback pass to Olds went for 66 yards to tie the game, which is where it stood until midway through the third quarter.
Periat talked about his first experience in the St. Paul rivalry.
"It was unbelievable ... a great way to start," he said. "I can't even tell you what happened or think about it right now. It's just unbelievable what the kids did at the end there. We fought through a lot.
"We told the kids coming into this game that was how it was going to be. Maybe now we broke it. Maybe now some of that St. Paul magic is gone, I don't know."
Stower finished 10-of-23 passing for 141 yards and a touchdown despite a 2-of-12 performance for 30 yards in the first half.
"The line was giving me time to throw, I just needed to go through my reads and execute," Stower said.
Olds caught six passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, who were held to just 80 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
For St. Paul, Adam Smith ran for 85 yards on 20 attempts while Livengood added 84 yards on 18 attempts with a score. Hinckley was 14-of-20 passing for 139 yards while adding 52 yards rushing on 12 attempts.
St. Paul 7 0 3 7 – 17
Monroeville 7 0 7 7 – 21
STP – Joe Hinckley 4 run (Scottie Slauterbeck kick)
MON – Skylar Olds 66 pass from Cory Long (Cory Smith kick)
STP – Slauterbeck 21 field goal
MON – Olds 15 pass from Stower (Smith kick)
STP – Isaac Livengood 1 run (Slauterbeck kick)
MON – Stower 1 run (Smith kick)
First downs 23 10
Rushes-yards 52-221 20-80
Passing yards 139 207
Att-comp-int 21-15-1 24-11-0
Penalties-yards 7-55 8-61
Fumbles-lost 4-1 1-0
RUSHING – (STP): Isaac Livengood 18-84, Adam Smith 20-85, Joe Hinckley 12-52, Alaric Newcomer 1-0; (MON): Cory Long 7-12, Chris Phillips 4-38, Ryan Stower 5-10, Justin Jones 2-22
PASSING – (STP): Joe Hinckley 14-20-139-0-1; (MON): Ryan Stower 10-23-141-1-0, Cory Long 1-1-66-1-0
RECEIVING – (STP): Alex Foster 3-38, Shawn Dankleson 6-73, Kurt Walliser 2-9, Ian Welch 3-22, Alaric Newcomer 1-4; (MON): Skylar Olds 7-160, Cory Long 1-7, Justin Jones 3-45.