The Hilliard Davidson High School football team’s dream of a third Division I state championship ended in a 13-11 loss to Cincinnati Moeller in the Division I, Region 2 final Nov. 30 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
The top-seeded Wildcats finished the season 13-1.
Second-seeded Moeller improved to 13-1 and will play Mentor in the state final Dec. 7. The Crusaders, the defending state champions, are seeking their eighth state title. Mentor defeated Lakewood St. Edward 41-38 in the Division I, Region 1 final Nov. 30.
“It was definitely interesting,” Davidson coach Brian White said. “Obviously, they are extremely good, but I knew our kids would fight their butts off and they did. We left a couple plays on the field.”
After spotting Moeller a 7-0 lead on quarterback Gus Ragland’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Chase Pankey on the game’s first possession, Davidson took an 8-7 lead on D.D. Clark’s 5-yard touchdown run and Alex Backenstoe’s 2-point run with 6:32 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats opened an 11-7 lead as Robert LeFevre’s 44-yard field goal with 2:55 left in the second quarter.
The Crusaders closed to within 11-10 at the half on Matthew Coghlin’s 23-yard field goal with seven seconds left and Coghlin accounted for the only points of the second half with a 27-yard field goal with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
Davidson controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half, rushing for 168 yards, but was unable to get untracked after intermission, totaling just 30 rushing yards in the second half.
Meanwhile, Ragland and running back Jack Gruber helped Moeller take control, as Gruber finished with 133 yards on 25 carries and Ragland rushed for 128 yards on 25 carries.
Clark led Davidson, rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
Davidson drove the ball near midfield early in the fourth quarter and after a Matt Martin punt pinned the Crusaders at their 1-yard line with 8:24 left in the game, Moeller took more than five minutes off the clock on a drive engineered by Ragland and Gruber.
Moeller’s defense then turned away a pair of late drives when Davidson was forced to go to its rarely used passing game.
“I guess we just didn’t come out and perform like we needed to,” Davidson quarterback Nick Iske said of the second half. “We didn’t get it done.”
M – Pankey 41 pass from Ragland (Coghlin kick)
HD – Clark 5 run (Backenstoe run)
HD – LeFevre 44 FG
M – Coghlin 23 FG
M – Coghlin 27 FG