Last week the Mount Healthy Owls (9-2, FAVC Scarlet division champs) won its first ever playoff game and the reward was playing fellow Fort Ancient Valley Conference member the Kings Knights (10-1, FAVC Cardinal division champs) on Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium in Mason.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start, but Kings received the first break of the night. Mt. Healthy punted from its own 18-yard line to the Kings 31. However, the play was called back on a Mt. Healthy personal foul. After the ball was now placed at the 8-yard line, the Owls' punter shanked the kick and Kings took over on the Mt. Healthy 26-yard line. The sequence turned out to be a 43-yard swing of field position in favor of Kings.
After three Jamire Westbrook rushing plays, Kings was on the scoreboard first 7-0 with 4:24 remaining in the first half.
Disaster struck once again for the Mt. Healthy punting game. After going three-and-out on the very next possession, the Owls punt was blocked by Kings defensive back Justin Crull. This time the Knights took over at the Mt. Healthy 11-yard line. The Owls defense stiffened and held Kings to a 23-yard field goal by Evan Berg and the Knights took a 10-0 lead.
*Check out our PHOTO GALLERY from this game*
Mt. Healthy's Tyrell Hines returned the ensuing kickoff out to the Owls 39-yard line, the best field position of the game to this point for the Owls. On third-down and 16, quarterback Denzel Larkin hit Vince Turnage on a 39-yard pass reception to give the Owls the ball on the three yard line. Running back Tracy Barnes ran it into the end zone on the next play and Mt. Healthy was on the board, trailing 10-7 with 9:59 left in the second quarter.
--Postgame: Andy Olds, Kings
Kings scored just before halftime on an eight-play drive when Westbrook scored his second rushing touchdown, this time from eight yards out, to take a 17-7 halftime lead. The junior running back had 92 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half.
Kings looked like it was going to blowout the Owls late in the third quarter after Westbrook scored on another rushing touchdown, this time from 2 yards out, to push the lead to 24-7.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Mt. Healthy slot receiver Tyree Elliott took a hand-off, went backwards and broke two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, before somehow getting away and raced 65 yards before he was chased down from behind by Crull. Four plays later, Larkin run it in from the two-yard line and the Owls had cut the lead to 24-13 after the extra point attempt failed.
Mt Healthy than attempted an on-side kick that was recovered Kings to setup a short field. However, the Owls still got a big play out of the situation when Hines intercepted a Jensen Gebhardt pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. After Barnes ran in the two-point conversion, Mt. Healthy was back in the game trailing 24-21.
Kings always seemed to have an answer for every Mt. Healthy threat. Crull returned the ensuing kickoff 51-yards, setting up great field position for the Knights. Six plays later, Berg kicked his second field goal of the night to push the lead to 27-21.
Once again mistakes would come back to haunt Mt. Healthy at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On the second play after the Kings field goal, Michael Tucker fumbled the ball after a pass reception and it was recovered by Knights defensive back Spencer Rosekrans.
Eleven plays later Westbrook, who rushed for 215 yards on 40 carries, scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the night. Gebhardt's pass to Jermard Lewis on the two-point conversion gave Kings a 35-21 lead.
Mt. Healthy would score again on a 7-yard pass from Larkin to Logan Perdue to come up with the final score 35-28.
In his last three games, Westbrook has rushed for at least 200 yards and scored four touchdowns, giving him 29 touchdowns on the season
The Knights (11-1) will play Trotwood-Madison (10-2), who defeated Winton Woods 42-23, in the Division II, Region 8 title game next week at a site to be determined.
Written by: Brady Laber, TriStateFootball.com