Teeth were gnashed as Worthington Kilbourne defensive players ran onto the field with a little more than six minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Wolves had just lost their third fumble and Dublin Scioto, their rival 2.3 miles to the west on Hard Road, was playing with a lot of fire.
Teeth were gnashed as Worthington Kilbourne defensive players ran onto the field with a little more than six minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Wolves had just lost their third fumble and Dublin Scioto, their rival 2.3 miles to the west on Hard Road, was playing with a lot of fire.
Defensive back Daniel Stricker knew someone needed to make a play for Kilbourne as he lined up to blitz Irish quarterback Nathan Densel. Stricker leapt to bat away a pass, but the ball stuck in his hands and he returned the interception 10 yards for a touchdown to get Kilbourne rolling to a 38-3 victory last night in a first-round Division II playoff game at Kilbourne's Jeff Gafford Field.
The Wolves' defense was everywhere, intercepting five passes, recovering a fumble and making five tackles for loss in the team's first playoff appearance since 2008.
Kilbourne (10-1) will play Zanesville (11-0) in a regional semifinal on Friday at a site to be determined.
As he ran to the bench after the touchdown, Stricker knew he had put a charge into his teammates, providing a 7-3 lead.
"It felt like the whole team got momentum," he said. "I think we were tense until that point. That lightened the mood. We just started to play our game. I saw the quarterback wind up and went into the air. I put my hands up. I was surprised the ball stayed in my hands."
The defense attacked Scioto (6-5) after Kilbourne took a 14-3 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Griffin Dahn to Chandler Bridges with 10:29 left in the second quarter.
The game turned when defensive back Taylor Wilson set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Justin Stoner with an interception that he returned 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-3 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
"Our head coach has done a great job of getting us into the right spots," Wilson said of Vince Trombetti. "Yes, I'm going to say it, we've got the top defense in the state of Ohio. At the beginning of the season, we didn't play well. Now, we have it down."
Dominic Brown intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, and Bridges had an interception. The defense gave up 73 yards.
There was jubilation but also relief, because Scioto had defeated Kilbourne 22-21 on opening night with a touchdown and two-point conversion with 23 seconds left.
Trombetti had tears in his eyes talking about the victory.
"At halftime, Taylor Wilson stood up and said, 'We are ready for this. We are ready to do this,' " he said. "This was a big win. We hear from alumni saying they are so proud that the program is back where it is supposed to be. We have a tremendous senior class, tremendous senior leadership.''
Defensive lineman Mason Rigio blissfully received pats on the back and congratulations after the game. The longest plays for the Irish were passes of 16 and 18 yards and a run of 15 yards.
"This is huge," he said. "We lost to them the first game of the season in the last minute. We just wanted to beat them."