Quarterback Andre Stewart ran for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries, and the Bexley High School football team clinched its first playoff appearance since 2008 with a 24-7 win over visiting Columbus Academy on Nov. 1.
The Lions, who improved to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division, also snapped a four-game losing streak to the Vikings, who fell to 6-4 and 4-2. Columbus Academy still holds a 21-13-1 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1975.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Bexley coach John Smith, who received a water cooler shower in the closing minutes. “With our kids and our kids’ effort, they came out and established the run and it starts with the guys up front.
“I thought we executed the game plan the way we wanted to.”
Bexley will open the Division IV, Region 13 playoffs Friday, Nov. 8.
The Lions rushed for 358 yards on 61 carries and were effective in controlling the clock, running 66 plays from scrimmage compared to 39 by the Vikings. Bexley also capitalized on a pair of first-half Academy fumbles.
Stewart’s 25-yard scoring run for the Lions came four plays after Tyler Krumlauf fumbled after catching a pass on the Vikings’ opening play. Bryce Bailey also fumbled for the Vikings, setting up Adam Hirsch’s 28-yard field goal, as Bexley led 10-0 at halftime.
Javell Gray, who finished with 134 yards on 27 carries, scored on a 2-yard run to put Bexley ahead 17-0 with 1 minute, 44 seconds left in the third quarter. Stewart scored on a 36-yard run, in which he spun off a pair of defenders, to make it 24-0 with 4:36 remaining.
Vikings quarterback Charlie Watters, who was 13-for-23 passing for 194 yards with two interceptions, connected with Bailey on a 38-yard scoring pass with 3:50 remaining.
“We turned the ball over three times in the first half and we were fortunate to be down 10-0 at half,” said Academy coach Jim Collis, whose team last made the playoffs in 2006. “They wanted it more than us and physically they came out and put one on us.”
B -- Stewart 25 run (Hirsch kick)
B -- Hirsch 28 FG
B -- Gray 2 run (Hirsch kick)
B -- Stewart 36 run (Hirsch kick)
CA-- Bailey 38 pass from Watters (Kohman kick)