HUBER HEIGHTS, OH – St. Marys on paper might have come in as the underdog but they surely did not play like one Saturday night in Huber Heights as the fourth seeded Roughriders eliminated top seeded Franklin from the Division 3 playoffs 55-31.
Having won the opening kickoff the Riders decided to take their chances on offense first, and just as it had last week at home against Belmont that decision would pay off again as they put points on the board to end their first chance with the football.
Starting from their own 32 the Roughriders utilized a trio of runners in Eric Spicer, Julius Fisher, and Sean Perry as they moved quickly into Franklin territory before being forced to settle for a Gabe Vandever 31 yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Franklin and their big play offense were able to move the ball effectively on their opening possession, but saw it come to an end when a pass from Junior QB Braden White found its way into the hands of St. Marys defender Drew Jacobs.
Eleven plays and close to five minutes came off the board for St. Marys on their second drive of the game as Coach Doug Frye’s troops reeled off four first downs including a 46 yard scamper from Spicer. Julius Fisher’s first touchdown of the evening put the Roughriders ahead by a 10-0 margin heading into the second quarter.
Behind 10-0 early in the second stanza the Wildcats finally were able to dent the scoreboard in the contest as White connected on a 10 yard touchdown pass to Jared Kinzer to cut the Rider advantage down to just three.
Just one play after seeing teammate Julius Fisher pick up a 10 yard gain on first down it was again Eric Spicer’s turn for the big play as he jaunted 65 yards through the Franklin defense for his 14th rushing touchdown of the season to push the Riders lead back to double digits at 17-7.
On the ensuing kickoff the Wildcats found themselves behind the benefit of a 15 yard penalty against their opponents for hit to the head and set up shop near midfield. Despite having worked the ball inside the St. Marys red zone the home team was forced to settle for a 25 yard field goal to get within 7 as they fumbled the ball on third down and were backed up six yards.
As he had done the previous time that Franklin came away with a score, Spicer against pushed the Rider lead back to where it had been as he returned a kickoff 95 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Julius Fisher’s second touchdown run of the first half came on the Riders last possession of the quarter that began at the Franklin 27 following a bad punt by the Wildcats and he blitzed in from two yards out to make it a 31-10 St. Marys lead heading into the halftime break.
In the first half Spicer accounted for 332 all purpose yards and helped his team accumulate 251 yards on the ground with his 9 carries for 156. Total offense for the first half of play had the Riders out gain their opponents 251-246.
Ryan Montgomery, the dynamic Junior all-purpose threat for Franklin started the second half with a 22 yard touchdown run for his squad that cut the lead down to 31-17 just two minutes into the third quarter.
A fumble on the first play of the next St. Marys drive hit the turf and found its way right back into the arms of a waiting Roughrider. Following the fumble recovery in which they actually gained three yards of field position, the Riders would be faced with a third down and be forced to throw their first pass since Week 10 against OG. On their first and only passing play of the contest, Dustin Howell connected with Julius Fisher for a 15 yard gain that gave St. Marys a first down and new life on a drive that almost came to an end on two different occasions. Just as he had done two times previous, Fisher was again the work horse and rumbled in from 12 yards out for a score that put his team on top 38-17.
With Dustin Howell stopped on a third down rushing attempt for no gain on their next drive, the Roughriders were forced to settle for a second Vandever field goal, this one from 25 yards away to extend their advantage to 41-17 with 10:46 remaining in the game.
Franklin cut the St. Marys lead to 41-25 on the next drive when White not only hooked up with Kinzer for a second time in the game, but also ran in a two point conversion just 1:23 later.
Defensively the Roughriders did to White just as they had done to Franklin QB’s in the 1989 game and that was send them repeatedly into the turf all night long. Despite Franklin starting at the St. Marys 49 and moving near the 30, the Riders forced a pair of sacks on third and fourth down to give their offense new live and good field position to begin their next drive.
Riding the momentum of what their defense had been doing all night long in keeping their opponents from scoring, the offensive unit utilized Fisher again and he responded for his fourth touchdown run of the night to make it 48-25 with 3:49 left.
Braden White who would finish 23/28 on the night passing and actually catch a pass himself from Montgomery on the night tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the contest as he connected on a 4 yard score to Noah Kremer to cut the Rider lead down to 48-31.
Starting from their opponents 45 and with 2:27 remaining after a failed onside kick attempt, St. Marys began to milk the clock with their running game. Dustin Howell scrambled up the middle on the drives fourth play and found nothing but 40 yards of Wayne HS field in front of him as he waltzed into the endzone with just :42 left and put the finishing touches on a 55-31 Rider victory.
On the evening three St. Marys rushers went over the century mark as Eric Spicer led the way with 15 carries for 174 yards. Julius Fisher finished with a four touchdown night and went over the 1,000 yard barrier for the season and was joined by Sophomore Sean Perry who in just his second start carried for exactly 100 yards on the evening.
943 yards of total offense was accumulated by the two squads during the contest with St. Marys out gaining their counterparts from Franklin 475-459. The Roughriders rushed 53 times for 460 yards and connected on 1/1 passing for 15 yards while the Wildcats gained 172 on the ground and 287 through the air.
Franklin sees their season come to an end at 11-1 while the Roughriders who scored the second highest amount of points in a playoff game in school history improved their record to 11-1 on the year.
St. Marys will now take on defending region champion Trotwood Madison (10-2) who were victorious over New Richmond 47-10 in their Regional Semifinal contest Saturday night.