HUBER HEIGHTS — St. Marys running back Eric Spicer was named Western Buckeye League offensive back of the year this past week and the fleet-footed senior showed why against Franklin after accumulating 330 total yards to propel the Roughriders past the Wildcats 55-31 in a Division III Region 12 semifinal Saturday night.
St. Marys moves on to play Trotwood-Madison, a 47-10 winner against New Richmond, in the regional finals. Franklin ends its season with a 10-2 record.
Spicer’s biggest run of the night did not come from the backfield but on a kickoff. After Franklin closed to within a touchdown 17-10 after a field goal, the Wildcats kicked off to Spicer who promptly raced 96 yards for a touchdown to give St. Marys a 24-10 lead with 6:07 left in the first half.
After Spicer’s return, Franklin looked to respond and swiftly moved the ball down to Roughrider 35 with a first and 10. However, the St. Marys defense recorded back-to-back sacks on second and third down to halt the Wildcat drive and they were forced to punt from their 50 with 2:12 left in the half.
On the punt, Spicer came up big again when the senior standout raced 52 yards to the Franklin 27 to put the Riders in excellent field goal position. Four plays later Julius Fisher punched it in for the Riders second touchdown in five minutes and the Riders owned a 31-10 halftime lead.
St. Marys head coach Doug Frye said the Riders came in with a great attitude and they beat a good, but beat “a good but not great” Franklin team and the return from Spicer was definitely a game changer.
“Eric is a special kid and he played with great spirit tonight,” Frye said. “That was a big pick me up.”
In the second half, Fisher took over as the workhorse and the Riders sustained long drives to keep scoring but also keep the explosive Wildcat offense off the field. For the game, Fisher, who had 44 yards in the first half, finished the game with 131 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. Two of Fisher’s touchdowns came in the second half.
Franklin head coach Brad Childers said their team knew of the Riders’ potent rushing attack and the Wildcats could not get the stops needed to catch St. Marys.
“They come off the ball as good as we have seen all season long,” Childers said. “We weren’t able to get the stops we needed early to shift the momentum and offensively we left points on the field and didn’t capitalize in the red zone like we typically do.”
Childers added that the kick off return and the punt return were two big plays that Franklin never recovered from the rest of the game.
“When you are trading punches in a competition like this you can’t give up special team’s scores and that didn’t help our situation and kind of took the air out of us but again our guys bounced back and tried to focus on the next play and kept fighting but at the end of the night we just didn’t have enough.
Also giving the Riders key yards throughout the game as sophomore tailback Sean Perry who finished with 99 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
We inserted a sophomore and junior tonight and I thought Perry had a nice game tonight,” Frye said. “We kind of simplified things and I guess I learned eight or 10 years ago you really just have to keep things simple and get better.”
The Rider defense gave up 447 total yards came up with big plays when they had to and recorded four sacks and one interception. For the game, Wildcat Ryan Montgomery rushed for 147 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Braden White finished the game going 26-of-28 for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
“We responded when it counted but it made it a little too interesting for this guy’s heart,” Frye said. “A great win tonight.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter @JoseNogueras1