PIQUA — Neither offense backed off an inch.
Trotwood-Madison and St. Marys kept hammering at each other all night long.
Then, finally with 3:23 left, Trotwood got a defensive stop and St. Marys couldn’t get the ball back.
Trotwood-Madison posted a 34-27 victory over St. Marys in the Division III football regional championship Saturday at Alexander Stadium.
“We couldn’t stop them tonight,” St. Marys coach Doug Frye said. “That’s a very good football team. But I was very proud of the effort our kids gave. I think our kids responded well and played hard tonight. They’re just talented. What can you say?”
Trotwood-Madison took the lead to stay with 6:54 to go on a 2-yard TD run by William McDaniel, who was filling in for a banged-up Raveion Hargrove.
St. Marys, which had been gobbling up huge chunks of yardage all night long, took the ball back at its own 38 with 6:49 to go.
The Roughriders drove to the Rams’ 27. But on fourth-and-3, St. Marys went with a screen pass, which was snuffed out and stopped for a 5-yard loss.
That gave Trotwood the ball at its own 32 with 3:02 to go.
From there, Hargrove returned and helped run out the clock for the Rams.
“I wanted this game bad,” Hargrove said. “But hats off to the St. Marys defense. They were physical and they were everything they were written up to be. … I think it’ll be a long week of recovery.”
Trotwood-Madison (11-2) advances to the state semifinals against Toledo Central Catholic (13-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at a site to be named. St. Marys ends its year 11-2.
Trotwood-Madison ended up running for 324 yards. The bulk of those came from the lightning-quick, 5-foot-7 Hargrove, who finished with 213 yards on 20 carries. He had TD runs of 16 and 87 yards.
“This was a fun game to play,” Hargrove said.
Hargrove went down with a knee injury with 4:21 left in the third quarter, but McDaniel stepped in and ran for 78 yards on seven carries. McDaniel had TD runs of 32 and 2 yards.
“Will’s been doing that all year for us,” Trotwood-Madison coach Jeff Graham said. “He was the one who stepped in when Hargrove went down the first three games of the year. We expected him to come out here and do what he did.”
Hargrove said, “This is a team game. Early in the year when I went down, Will came in and did the job.”
Western Buckeye League tri-champion St. Marys ran for 355 yards.
“I was proud of our offensive execution tonight,” Frye said.
Julius Fisher had 132 yards on 26 carries with a 1-yard TD. Eric Spicer had 102 yards on 18 carries. He had TD runs of 27 and 26 yards.
Sophomore Sean Perry ran plenty of counter plays and had 85 yards on nine carries for St. Marys.
Both teams marched up and down the field throughout the first half.
The key was St. Marys, leading 7-6, lost a fumble at the Trotwood 13-yard line.
On the next play, Hargrove hit the line of scrimmage, spun completely around, hit a jet stream and took off for an 87-yard TD.
“It just happens,” Hargrove said of the spin run. “The line opens up the hole and I just run.”
That gave Trotwood a 14-7 lead with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
But the St. Marys’ Wing-T attack continued to plow forward using a dive, trap, sweep and counter. Spicer’s 26-yard TD tied the game at 14.
Trotwood led 20-17 at the half after St. Marys’ Gave Vandever kicked a 23-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the half.
St. Marys started the third quarter with a methodical, 15-play, 64-yard scoring drive. Fisher’s 1-yard TD run gave St. Marys a 24-20 lead.
And with Hargrove hurt, McDaniel swept the right side and chalked up a 32-yard TD to put Trotwood ahead 26-24 with 2:55 left in the third.
St. Marys pulled ahead 27-26 with another 23-yard field goal by Vandever with 10 minutes to go in the game.
“If you’re going to win tonight, you’re going to need a break or two,” Frye said. “I didn’t think we ever got that break.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.