Friday Night Lights

Throughout the high school football season, BuckeyeSports.com will be following the progress of Ohio State's football commitments. Here is how the OSU verbal commitments and their teams fared Nov. 19-20. All are seniors unless noted.

Braxton Miller, QB, Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne – Wayne's improbable run reached the state semifinals when the Warriors knocked off Cincinnati St. Xavier 28-24 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I, Region 4 championship game.

Wayne (10-3), the eighth and lowest seed in the region, took home the title thanks to a come-from-behind victory against the sixth-seeded Bombers (7-5). The Warriors blew a 21-7 lead and trailed 24-21 before Anthone Taylor put Wayne ahead for good with a 19-yard touchdown run with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter.

Wayne became only the third Dayton-area team to win Region 4.

"We came out and knew we just weren't representing ourselves or our community. We were representing all of Dayton and the (Greater Western Ohio Conference)," Taylor told the Dayton Daily News after Wayne became only the third Dayton area team to win Region 4.

Miller completed 16 of 29 passes for 178 yards and an interception. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Seth Stuart in the second quarter and ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

St. Xavier led 7-0 on a 2-yard TD run by Conor Hundley before Wayne answered. The Warriors will next face defending Division I champion Hilliard Davidson in the state semifinals Nov. 27 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. Second-seeded Davidson (12-0) defeated No. 1 Pickerington Central 13-6 in the Region 3 championship.

Ken Hayes, DE, Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer – In one of the biggest playoff games ever featuring Toledo City League foes, third-seeded Whitmer outlasted No. 4 Toledo St. John's 14-10 for the Division I, Region 2 championship at Bowling Green's Doyt Perry Stadium.

The Panthers (12-1) advanced thanks to a big play in the second quarter and a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Despite being outgained 191-50 at halftime, Whitmer went into the break tied 7-7 thanks to a special teams score.

Joe McNabb blocked a Brandon Smith kick, and Nick Holley picked up the loose ball at the St. John's 25. He raced to the 2-yard line before fumbling into the end zone, where Hayes' younger brother Nigel then fell on the ball for a touchdown with 16.8 seconds left before halftime.

"That was a big momentum changer for us," McNabb told the Toledo Blade. "It really helped us going into the second half."

Running back Tre Sterritt sent Whitmer to the state semifinals with a 5-yard touchdown run with 3:56 remaining to erase a 10-7 St. John's lead. Alex Palicki set up the score with a 33-yard run on a QB keeper to the 5-yard line.

"I just saw daylight and I went," Palicki said. "I was not going to be stopped. When Tre scored, that was the best feeling of my life. It was awesome knowing we got it done.

"We just knew that we had to go on that drive. Everyone just buckled up and fought, and we made it happen."

After the touchdown, Ken Hayes and the Whitmer defense bent but did not break. St. John's (11-2) started at its own 20 and drove all the way to the Whitmer 26 before being stopped on downs. The Panthers were then able to run out the final 1:21 on the clock.

The Panthers will face Kalis' Lakewood St. Edward team in the state semifinals Nov. 27 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

The Panthers will face OSU recruit Kyle Kalis and Lakewood St. Edward Nov. 27 in the state semifinals at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

Jeff Heuerman, TE, Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier – Recent Michigan commit Dallas Crawford played with a heavy heart and led his South Fort Myers squad to a 33-2 thumping of Heuerman and Barron Collier Friday night in a Florida High School Athletic Association Class 3A Region 3 quarterfinal.

Crawford, a quarterback and safety, lost his father Nov. 12 – the same day he gave his verbal commitment to the Wolverines. Steven Crawford's son led the District 11 champions to a lopsided victory a week later. The younger Crawford took the field less than 24 hours after he attended his father's wake.

"I was just trying to take my mind off it - focus on the game, focus on the team," Crawford told the Naples News. "Now it's back to reality. The whole team (dedicated the game to his dad). The whole school did. And I appreciate that a lot. It was a blessing."

The game was not close. The Wolfpack (10-0) outgained Barron Collier 346-131. Sammy Watkins led the SFM attack with 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 53 yards, threw a 23-yard TD pass to Crawford, returned a punt 60 yards and hauled in an interception.

Crawford completed 11 of 14 passes for 163 yards and two scores.

The Cougars (8-3) were led by quarterback Julio Gomez, who completed 6 of 21 passes for 53 yards. Heuerman caught two passes for 21 yards in his final prep performance.

Kyle Kalis, OL, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward – Kalis and the St. Edward offensive line opened plenty of holes for running back Terrell Bates and quarterback Kevin Burke to run through, and the Eagles earned a trip to the state semifinals with a 42-14 rout of Solon in the Division I Region 1 championship.

The outcome was not in doubt for long at Byers Field in Parma. Bates rushed for three touchdowns in the first half, and third-seeded St. Edward (12-0) raced out to 35-0 halftime – continuing its trend of putting up plenty of points in the postseason. The Eagles have outscored their three playoff foes 125-36.

"The one thing we haven't been doing too well is starting real fast in some of these games," St. Edward coach Rick Finotti told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. "We started fast (Saturday). It's hard to keep 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids with a big lead. They're not used to playing like that. It kind of shocked us."

Solon (12-1) attempted to claw back into it in the second half with a pair of touchdowns to cut the deficit to 35-14, but a 63-yard touchdown run by Burke iced the victory. Burke rushed for 179 yards and added 72 more through the air.

Bates finished with 103 yards, including 90 in the first half. The Eagles finished with 309 yards rushing.


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