Michiah Burton of the New Albany High School football team could sense the fatigue as the holes got bigger.
The junior running back and the offensive line for the sixth-seeded Eagles wore down top-seeded Walnut Ridge in the second half on their way to a 30-6 win in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal Nov. 10 at Westerville South.
New Albany improved to 8-4 and will play second-seeded Massillon Washington in the regional final Nov. 17.
It will be the Eagles’ fourth appearance in a regional final in the last six seasons.
“We wanted to run the clock down and keep their offense off the field,” said Burton, who ran for 193 yards on 28 carries. “They have a great offense and we’re capable of making big plays.”
Burton’s 11-yard touchdown run put the Eagles up 21-6 early in the fourth quarter, capping a six-play, 61-yard drive in which he added first-down runs of 12 and 23 yards.
“Michiah just keeps chipping away at it,” New Albany coach Pat Samanich said. “We knew he was a step away, and he finally broke away in that second half.”
While Burton helped wear down the Scots’ defense, Eagles quarterback Jalin Jackson made throws to help extend the lead. He completed six of 12 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns.
Luke Muter caught two of the touchdown passes — 15 and 22 yards — in the second half and finished with four catches for 58 yards.
The first half looked much different as both teams struggled to produce first downs.
Walnut Ridge, which finished 9-2, had just 67 total yards in the first half, and 43 of those yards came on a pass from quarterback Isaiah Murphy to Julius Wood to reach the New Albany 2 as time expired.
New Albany led 7-0 at halftime, with Muter catching his 15-yard touchdown pass from Jackson with 13 seconds left in the second quarter.
“We had some opportunities,” Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox said. “Our defense was playing great. But they made some adjustments at halftime, and it caught up with us.”
The Scots capitalized on one of their two red-zone opportunities in the second half when Murphy completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Wood on the opening drive of the third quarter.
New Albany fumbled on the kickoff return to start the second half, giving Walnut Ridge the ball at the Eagles’ 16 yard line.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final NEW ALBANY 0 7 7 16 30 WALNUT RIDGE
0 0 6 0 6
NA—Muter 15 pass from Jackson (Paragas kick)
WR—Wood 15 pass from Murphy (kick failed)
NA—Thomas 48 pass from Jackson (Paragas kick)
NA—Burton 11 run (Paragas kick)
NA—Safety, ball kicked out of end zone
NA—Muter 22 pass from Jackson (Paragas kick)