Springfield edges Trimble
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — There’s at least one day a week where the Springfield Tigers work on several different ‘gadget’ plays just in case the time comes where they might need one.
Head coach Sean Guerriero found that time with just under five minutes to play in Friday’s Division VI, Region 21 semifinal held at chilly Red Devil Stadium at St. Clairsville High School.
With the Tigers trailing Glouster-Trimble and its vaunted wishbone running attack, 19-14 and facing a fourth-and-long on their own 41, the Tigers dug into that bag of tricks.
The aforementioned practice paid dividends as the hook and lateral worked brilliantly to set up the game-winning touchdown, which allowed the top-seeded Tigers to escape with a hard-earned 20-19 victory over the Tomcats.
“When you need it and it works, we look like geniuses,” Guerriero smiled. “The call came from (the coaches) up top, the players executed it great and it worked out in our favor.”
The win advances Springfield (12-0) to next week’s regional championship against Mogadore, which stunned Fort Frye in the other semifinal. The site for that game will be announced Sunday by the OHSAA.
“At the beginning of the season, you talk about winning the league, making the playoffs, earning a home playoff game and then advancing as far as possible,” Guerriero said. “We need to make sure we stay focused on the next opponent.”
Before any attention could be given to the Wildcats, Springfield got everything it expected and then some from the Tomcats.
“We talked to the kids all week that this was going to be a four-quarter game,” Guerriero said. “Trimble’s a great team and they’re tough. Our kids fought hard and we made plays when we needed them.”
Because of Trimble’s defensive prowess and ability to possess the football for long stretches with its ground game that accumulated 302 yards and all three ouf its touchdowns on 58 carries, Springfield knew it had to take some chances.
On a possession prior to the final scoring drive, Springfield rolled the dice in its own territory on a fourth down and was stuffed.
Trimble eventually cashed in 1-yard plunge from Conner Wright, who accounted for 164 yards and all three scores. Trimble went for 2 after missing an earlier PAT and had the conversion nulified by penalty. The ensuing try was a pass and it fell incomplete.
“I thought we should have it and, at least, it should have been off-setting penalties because they had a guy 10 yards in our backfield,” Trimble head coach Phil Faires said. “The official thought he got back. But, you know, we came up short and that ended up being a big play.”
Springfield, with its back to the wall, was unfazed. As it had done to prior Trimble scores, it answered.
The biggest play was the fourth-down call.
Sophomore quarterback Beau Brungard found junior Clayton Medvec on a 6-yard pass. Medvec promptly pitched it back to senior Garrett Walker, who raced it 42 yards up the sideline for a first down at the Tomcats 11.
“We weren’t calling it out, but we got a hand on the ball, but just not enough,” Faires said. “We knock that down and it’s probably our game. We could have ran the clock out, but they made the plays. Give Springfield credit.”
Four plays later, Brungard found junior Mitchell Seymour, who beautifully high pointed the fade route throw, for a 10-yard touchdown and the 20-19 lead. The try for two failed.
“Offensively, we came through in the end,” Guerriero said. “We put ourselves in some bad positions with some penalties, but the kids found a way and came through.”
Still, however, Trimble had a last glimmer of hope. But, it didn’t have a lot of time.
The Tomcats got the ball on their own 20 after a touchback with 3:27 to play.
Quarterback Cameron Kittle orchestrated a drive to the Springfield 27, but on a fourth-down play his pass was picked off by Walker, who had a strong all-around game.
Springfield also had an interception to thwart a 19-play, 9 minute, 24 second Trimble march that ended the half.
“Both interceptions were huge,” Guerriero said. “The pick at the end of the game is another example of kids making plays when we needed them. We finally got (Trimble) to the point where they had to throw the ball, which is a credit to them.”
Brungard was effective all evening. He finished 16-of-21 for 153 yards and the two touchdowns. On top of his interception, Walker scored on a 7-yard run, caught five balls for 32 yards and finished with 53 yards rushing.