The Hilliard Davidson High School football team did what it does best, using a power running game and hard-nosed defense to beat Upper Arlington 15-6 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal Saturday, Nov. 12, at DeSales.
Alex Mickley rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries, including a 1-yard score with 51 seconds left in the second quarter to give Davidson a 6-0 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Mickley rushed 12 times on a 14-play, 60-yard drive that ate up more than eight minutes and made sure the top-seeded Wildcats would reach another regional final.
A 19-yard field goal by Jack Johns capped the drive and gave Davidson a 15-0 lead.
Davidson improved to 11-0 overall and advanced to meet second-seeded Pickerington Central in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 19, at a site to be determined.
The fourth-seeded Golden Bears finished 9-3. They also lost to Davidson 25-7 on Oct. 21 in OCC-Central Division play.
The playoff rematch was typical Davidson, with rush after rush grinding up yardage and the clock.
“As long as we have more points on the scoreboard than our opponents at this point in the season, I don’t care how it happens,” Wildcats coach Brian White said. “If we can maintain time of possession and keep our defense fresh then obviously we’re going to be able to play well.”
Three times in the first half, Davidson had the ball at midfield or better and failed to score. UA’s Chris Frey recovered a fumble at the Bears’ 15-yard line late in the first quarter.
Mickley figured the penalties and mistakes would come to an end at some point. His 34-yard touchdown run put the Wildcats ahead 12-0 with 11:24 remaining.
“I think we just started wearing them down when we started hitting those big runs in the fourth quarter,” he said. “You just try to get those 3-yard runs and eventually you’re going to break one.”
UA’s struggles to run the ball put the offense in the hands of quarterback David Smith, who completed 15 of 30 passes for 154 yards.
Smith had his best success in the hurry-up offense.
He was 5-for-6 passing on the Bears’ final drive, including a 20-yard touchdown to Frank Epitropoulos, who came up with a jump ball in the corner of the end zone with 1:05 left.
Epitropoulos caught three passes during a drive late in the second quarter that ended when Davidson’s Chris Harris intercepted Smith in the end zone with 4 seconds left.
UA was held to 28 yards rushing.
“They made some plays when they had to and we didn’t,” UA coach Mike Golden said. “It was a very hard-fought game and a very physical game. I’m sorry what happened there at the end, but both teams were just playing so hard.”
A scuffle occurred on the UA sideline following the Bears’ failed onside kick attempt.
UPPER ARLINGTON 0 0 0 6 -- 6
HILLIARD DAVIDSON 0 6 0 9 -- 15
HD--Mickley 1 run (kick failed)
HD--Mickley 34 run (pass failed)
HD--Johns 19 FG
UA--Epitropoulos 20 pass from Smith (kick failed)