Friday Night Lights

Throughout the high school football season, will be following the progress of Ohio State's football commitments. Here is how the OSU verbal commitments and their teams fared Nov. 11-12.

Warren Ball, RB, Columbus DeSales – A 27-yard field goal by Nathan Jenkins sent fifth-seeded Elida past No. 1 DeSales 24-21 in an Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III, Region 10 semifinal at Clayton Northmont.

Jenkins' field goal came as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard and ended a drive that was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on a fourth-down play. Elida (9-3) had a fourth-and-7 pass from the DeSales 34-yard line with 1:38 remaining fall incomplete, but the Stallions (7-4) were flagged for a hit on quarterback Reggie McAdams.

Four plays later, Jenkins sent the Bulldogs to the regional final. Elida will face Columbus Eastmoor on Nov. 18.

"It was a hard-fought game by both teams, and it's difficult to swallow getting a call like that," DeSales head coach Ryan Wiggins told This Week newspapers of Columbus. "That play at the end of the game was bad officiating. They decided the game. I'm going to fight for my players, and I thought the officials kind of decided the game."

DeSales never led but erased Bulldog leads three times. Ball scored two touchdowns and knotted the game at 7 late in the first half with a 4-yard score. He later scored his team's final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run that tied the game at 21. Ball finished with 154 yards on 31 carries in his final prep game.

Jacoby Boren, OG, and Roger Lewis, WR, Pickerington (Ohio) Central – Lewis caught one of three touchdowns produced by quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg as No. 2 Pickerington Central advanced to the Division I, Region 3 final with a 41-10 win against sixth-seeded Gahanna Lincoln at Ohio Wesleyan's Selby Stadium.

Lewis hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. It gave Pickerington Central (9-2) a 14-3 lead at the time, and the Tigers went into halftime with a commanding 20-3 advantage.

"We were fired up, but it was no different from any other playoff game," Boren told the (Columbus) Dispatch. "There is pressure. You win or go home. We keep on going to the next game."

Jensen-Clagg led the way to victory. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 86 yards and two scores and also ran for another. Pickerington Central running back Devone Penick ran behind Boren and the rest of his offensive line to the tune of 161 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.

The Tigers finished with 319 rushing yards. Billy Eakins added 72 yards to that total on 13 carries.

"Our quarterback made some nice throws in key situations, and our running game had a good one-two punch with Penick and Eakins," Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett told This Week newspapers of Columbus. "Really, though, our line did a great job of blocking them, because we primarily run a one-back offense so there's usually no secret as to who is getting the ball."

Gahanna Lincoln ended its season 9-3. Senior quarterback Tyler Grassman led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in four years and had a solid final high school game. He completed 19 of 35 passes for 176 yards and ran 15 times for 47 more.

Pickerington Central will face state power Hilliard Davidson in the regional final.

Frank Epitropoulos, WR, Upper Arlington, Ohio – Epitropoulos scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough as top-seeded Hilliard Davidson defeated No. 4 Upper Arlington 15-6 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal at DeSales.

The future Buckeye nabbed a 20-yard TD pass from David Smith in the corner of the end zone with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter. That proved to be the lone highlight for the Golden Bears (9-3), who stayed close to Davidson but could best their Ohio Capital Conference foe.

As usual, the Wildcats (12-0) used their run-heavy attack to slowly wear down their opponent. Davidson was held to a 6-0 lead through the first half. Alex Mickley scored the lone points on a 1-yard touchdown on a third-and-goal play with less than a minute left in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 40-yard punt return by Tyler Talbott on an Epitropoulos kick. That allowed Davidson to start the drive at the UA 31-yard line.

Mickley added another touchdown, this one on a 34-yard run, in the fourth quarter. It gave the Wildcats a 12-0 lead it kept after failing to convert on a two-point play. The lead later extended to 15-0 on a 19-yard field goal by Jack Johns with 2:28 remaining.

Epitropoulos then set the final score with his final prep touchdown, a catch of what was essentially a jump ball over two defenders. UA's extra-point kick was blocked.

Najee Murray, DB, Steubenville, Ohio – No. 4 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney knocked off top-seeded and previously unbeaten Steubenville 24-22 thanks to a Connor Durina 30-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

Steubenville (11-1) led 16-7 going into the fourth quarter before the Cardinals rallied. Roosevelt Griffin started the comeback with a 49-yard touchdown run. After the Big Red failed to answer, Mooney took the lead with another Griffin TD, this time from 1 yard out with 4:37 remaining.

Big Red quarterback Marcus Prather then led his team to a go-ahead touchdown. He completed 4 of 6 passes on the 78-yard drive. Evan Westlake ended the march with an 11-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone with 1:56 left. Steubenville then went for two but had the conversion fail when Prather had a pass fall incomplete.

Mooney then drove for the winning score, thanks in part to two 15-yard penalties and a controversial ruling on a fumble. Steubenville was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit by Murray on Mooney wide receiver Ryan Farragher and later a personal foul stemming from a play in which Griffin was hit for a loss and appeared to fumble. The referees, however, ruled Griffin down by contact and penalized for holding onto the football following the play, according to the Steubenville Herald Star.

Two plays later, Durina booted his winning kick.

"I want to congratulate them on their last drive," Big Red head coach Reno Saccoccia told the Herald Star. "I'd like to congratulate our players on a great game and a great year. I thought we had the fumble and I'm not sure what happened on the personal foul."

Murray forced one of three Mooney turnovers in a losing effort. His big hit on a Mooney receiver resulted in a TeShawn Luke interception. On offense, Murray caught two passes for 32 yards.

Mooney (8-3) advanced to face Dover for the regional title next weekend. The Cardinals improved to 6-1 against Steubenville all time.

Blake Thomas, TE, Cleveland St. Ignatius – Senior kicker Tim Shenk made a 32-yard field goal as time expired to cap a dramatic comeback and give second-seeded St. Ignatius a 20-17 victory against rival and sixth-seeded Lakewood St. Edward in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal at Brunswick.

The Wildcats (10-2) erased a two-touchdown deficit it faced in the third quarter before Shenk's boot won it. The Air Force recruit made his 15th field goal of the season.

"Not bigger than this!," Shenk told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer when asked if he had ever made a bigger kick. "This was a big deal. It's what we do every day in practice. I had a lot of confidence in myself. I'm really glad the game came down to this. It's a great way to end my senior season against St. Ed's.

"Was I nervous? A little bit."

St. Edward (8-4) held a 17-3 lead with 3:32 remaining in the third quarter before the Wildcats rallied. Eagles quarterback Ryan Fallon gave his team that 14-point lead when he ran for a 45-yard touchdown on a broken play. St. Ignatius began its comeback on its next offensive possession. Thanks in large part to three pass interference calls against St. Edward, the Wildcats went 80 yards for a score. Thomas finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown catch from Eric Williams.

Tim McVey then tied the game on St. Ignatius' first drive of the fourth quarter. His 34-yard touchdown run, and another Shenk extra point, knotted the game at 17-17.

Both teams had chances to take the lead before Shenk finally did for his team. After the Wildcats tied the game, St. Edward drove to the Wildcat 33. The drive ended with a fumble, however, when Thomas Fanning scooped up a loose ball.

Williams then had a pass picked off on the ensuing drive, but the Eagles again lost the ball on a fumble. The final turnover set up St. Ignatius' winning drive.

St. Ignatius will face Mentor in the regional final. The Cardinals earned a 38-24 win against the Wildcats in September.

The following OSU verbal commits have completed their seasons: De'Van Bogard, S, Cleveland Glenville; Bri'onte Dunn, RB, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak; Patrick Elflein, OG, Pickerington (Ohio) North; Cardale Jones, QB, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy; Joshua Perry, OLB, Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy; Tyvis Powell, S, Bedford, Ohio; Luke Roberts, MLB, Lancaster, Ohio; Mike Thomas, WR, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

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