CHILLICOTHE — It was a tale of two halves between the Columbus Academy football team and top-seeded Wheelersburg in a Division V, Region 19 semifinal Nov. 10 at Chillicothe High School.
The Pirates spotted the fifth-seeded Vikings a 13-0 halftime lead before storming back in the second half for a 35-16 win.
Wheelersburg improved to 12-0 and will face third-seeded Johnstown in the regional final Nov. 17. Academy finished 9-3.
“They found their groove, they found their power-run game and what they could do well and started executing,” Vikings coach Robin Miller said. “They’re physical and threw haymakers and we didn’t have quite enough … left.”
Academy led the Pirates 7-0 after the first quarter and stretched its lead to 13-0 in the second quarter, marking the first time this season that Wheelersburg faced a two-score deficit.
The Vikings took advantage of three first-half turnovers to build their lead. Josh Pearson opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run and Sam Massick made field goals of 34 and 50 yards.
After Massick added a 19-yard field goal in the third quarter to give the Vikings a 16-7 lead, Wheelersburg took control, taking advantage of three Academy turnovers.
Xander Carmichael spearheaded the Pirates’ comeback, highlighted by a 43-yard touchdown pass to Evan Horsley on a fake punt that gave Wheelersburg the lead for good at 21-16 with 25.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
Carmichael also had touchdown runs of 13, 8 and 22 yards.
“They fought to the end,” Miller said of his team. “It’s a great team. We took a lot of strides this year. We knew that team was awfully talented and they had a tremendous second half. They threw a few more punches than we could handle, and hats off to them.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final COLUMBUS ACADEMY 7 6 3 0 16 WHEELERSBURG
0 0 21 14 35
CA—Pearson 10 run (Massick kick)
CA—Massick 34 FG
CA—Massick 50 FG
W—Horsley 8 run (Miller kick)
CA—Massick 19 FG
W—Carmichael 13 run (Miller kick)
W—Horsley 43 pass from Carmichael (Miller kick)
W—Carmichael 8 run (Miller kick)
W—Carmichael 22 run (Miller kick)