ZANESVILLE — The Canal Winchester High School football team spotted host Zanesville a 10-0 lead but took advantage of a break late in the first half and dominated the second half to win 21-16 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs Nov. 2.
“Nobody gave us a chance guys,” Indians coach Shawn Hinkle told his players in the postgame speech in the end zone. “We live to play another game.”
Canal Winchester, seeded seventh in the region, improved to 9-2 and will play Marion-Franklin in a regional semifinal Nov. 9. Zanesville, the second seed, finished 9-2.
“People say things and you can print them out and post it in the locker room and use it for motivation,” Hinkle said. “We can use that as motivation. You can measure speed, height and weight and all that stuff, but you can’t measure a guy’s heart and we definitely showed our hearts tonight.
“Our running backs ran hard for every yard and we made a switch at halftime in our blocking scheme to account for their spins on the defensive front. Plus, we had a heart-to-heart talk.”
Trailing 10-0 in the first half with Zanesville driving to midfield, the Blue Devils’ Thomas Wibbeler threw a screen to Dar Stanford. Indians nose tackle Deontaye Cosby, who had three sacks and four tackles for losses, jarred the ball from Stanford. Khari Golden caught the ball and returned it 50 yards to the Blue Devils’ 10.
Three plays later, Jaquan Ransome’s 5-yard run made it 10-7 with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the half.
“If they punch that one in there, it’s a completely different game,” Hinkle said. “That definitely was a huge play that changed momentum.”
The Indians used that momentum right out of halftime, driving 64 yards in 10 plays to take a 14-10 lead when John Franklin scored on a 1-yard run.
Zanesville responded by driving down the field, but Wibbeler fumbled on first-and-goal from the Canal Winchester 9 and Skyler Scott recovered.
When Zanesville finally got the ball again, it trailed 21-10 with 7:51 remaining after Ransome’s 3-yard scoring run that capped a 17-play, 93-yard drive, which consumed 8:45. The key play for Canal Winchester came on fourth-and-7 from its own 10, as punter Elante Moore ran for 11 yards to convert his second fake punt of the game into a first down.
“We don’t call those. He has a green light to take the edge if he sees it’s there,” Hinkle said. “Sometimes he sees a little more than I do. But it was a great play and it was huge for us.”
“He told me ‘Great play son,’” Moore said. “If I see them blitzing, I just take off and rely on my teammates for a block or two. He gets mad sometimes, but as long as I get it, he’s happy. He told me I scared him though.”
The Blue Devils scored on a 58-yard pass from Wibbeler to J.T. McFarland on the final play of the game.
“We talked all week long about needing to put together a few long drives and we did that in the second half,” Hinkle said. “With an offense that can score as quick as Zanesville can, it was important to play some ball possession and eat up some clock.”
Ransome ran 20 times for 77 yards and John Franklin had 86 yards on 23 carries. The Indians had only 50 yards rushing and 72 total yards in the first half.
Wibbeler was 16-for-29 for 254 yards and two interceptions for Zanesville, which had 46 yards rushing.
Z--Weir 20 FG
Z--Stanford 16 pass from Wibbeler (Weir kick)
CW--Ransome 5 run (Ising kick)
CW--Franklin 1 run (Ising kick)
CW--Ransome 3 run (Ising kick)
Z--McFarland 58 pass from Wibbeler