(*** Editor's note:Original was written at 1:31am ET Saturday. After getting some sleep, I noticed a couple of errors which have now been corrected. Thanks for understanding and as always, Go Cavs!" - Dan Ramey)
All season long, when the Cavaliers needed to reach down deep, they found a way to get it done.
Trailing 29-14 at Brookhaven with under nine minutes remaining, Chillicothe needed some magic and they got it only to fall short 29-27 in the Division III Regional Quarterfinals.
The Cavs’s rallied with a 19 yard Ryan Mathis pass to D.J. Vinson to whittle the Bearcats’ lead to eight at 29-21 and with 1:36 remaining, Daiquan Hall plunged in for a one yard touchdown run on 4th and goal to go. Going for two on the PAT, Mathis found Jalen Michal in the corner of the end zone, but the ball fell from his hands and the Cavs come back was thwarted.
“I’m really proud of how we battled back” said Cavs Coach Ron Hinton. “We came right down to the last second to score, and by golly we did.”
Chillicothe was handed an opportunity to tie when Brookhaven’s Macyah Fleming tried to roll left on a punt from his own goal line. The sophomore slipped and Michael Beard tackled him at the Bearcats’ seven yard line.
After the Cavs’ TD, Jacob Weber’s on side kick deflected off a Bearcat and was recovered by Eddie Wells. The recovery with 1:34 remaining would have given the Cavs another opportunity in a night where the game had more twists than the plot of a Jerry Brukheimer adventure. An offsides penalty nullified the recovery and Brookhaven ran out the clock to secure the victory.
“I should’ve had a plan on the sideline before when we scored. I’ll take the blame for that” said Hinton of the two-point try.
The Bearcats were turned away from the end zone on the game’s opening possession when Beard intercepted a pass at the goal line. On the next play, the Cavs fumbled. Brookhaven recovered and missed an opportunity with Ceesay Abass’ 33 yard field goal hit the right upright.
Two plays later, the Cavs fumbled again. This time, Brookhaven capitalized with a six yard run by David Peoples for the early 7-0 lead.
On their next possession, Markel Cain reeled in a Mathis pass for 42 yards and a face mask call put Chillicothe deep into Bearcats territory. On a pass to the end zone, Davon Grant intercepted the ball.
The Cavs got the ball back on Beard's second interception at the Brookhaven 37. This time, Cain popped outside and raced to the end zone on first down to tie the game at seven.
The Bearcats got a 32 yard field goal by Abass for a 10-7 edge, but that was short lived as Cain raced 95 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff for a 14-10 Chillicothe lead.
The Cavs worked inside the Bearcat five yard line but fumbled the ball again.
The Cavs had half of their season total of fumbles (9) in the first half at Brookhaven.
The Bearcats regained the lead at 23-14 when Asan Crego grabbed a Fleming pass at the Cavs' 40 and slipped past Chillicothe’s Steve Bayless. Brookhaven extended their lead to 29-14 on a 37 yard strike to Terry Barker with 8:54 remaining.
“Their athletes played in space and we missed some tackles” said Hinton, “But the biggest thing, our defense was on the field entirely too much.”
Chillicothe finishes its season 9-2.