ZANESVILLE — The similarities between the Bexley and Zanesville Maysville high school football teams ended Nov. 8 when the host Panthers defeated the Lions 35-14 in the first round of the Division IV, Region 13 playoffs.
Both teams won their first five contests and entered the game with 7-3 records. Both were seeking their first playoff victories in their second postseason appearance.
But the Lions made four turnovers and struggled to move the ball, and their defense was on the field for large chunks of the game.
“We couldn’t get off the field on defense, and we just put the defense in bad position most of the game,” Bexley coach John Smith said. “We had trouble getting outside to run the ball, and I’ll take some blame for that. (Maysville) just did a great job against our offense, and it didn’t help that (senior running back Rasheed Morgan) got banged up in the first half.”
The Panthers had a 36-20 advantage in plays in the first half, but the Lions trailed only 14-7 at intermission.
Maysville scored on its second possession when Judd Mervine caught a 9-yard scoring pass from running back C.J. Harris with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers ran 22 plays in the period to five for Bexley.
The Panthers used a 49-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jacob Miller to running back Chase Roberts to make it 14-0. Bexley quarterback Andre Stewart then got loose for a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of the next drive with 7:15 left in the half.
But Maysville owned the third quarter.
Jordan Hayes scored on a 1-yard run one play after going 23 yards on a second-and-9 play in which he was met at the line of scrimmage but bowled over a Lions defender.
The Panthers increased the margin to 28-7 on a 57-yard pass from Miller to Tanner Stottsberry.
“Both of their long touchdown passes were on busted coverages, especially the second one when we bit up and nobody was within 15 or 20 yards of (Stottsberry),” Smith said. “But they sucked us up because we had trouble stopping the run and then they hit us deep.”
Bexley’s other score came when Corbin Thompson recovered a Maysville fumble in the end zone with 5:34 left in the game. The Panthers tacked on their last score, a 3-yard run by Hayes, with 3:29 left.
Stewart rushed for 139 yards on 18 carries and was 2-for-10 passing for 15 yards and an interception.
Hayes had 151 yards on 25 carries to lead Maysville, which held a 357-206 advantage in total yards.
ZM – Mervine 9 pass from Harris (Valle kick)
ZM – Roberts 49 pass from Miller (Valle kick)
B – Stewart 60 run (Hirsch kick)
ZM – Hayes 1 run (Valle kick)
ZM – Stottsberry 57 pass from Miller (Valle kick)
B – Thompson fumble recovery in end zone (Hirsch kick)
ZM – Hayes 3 run (Valle kick)