MARION — The Dublin Coffman High School football team rode a wave of momentum to a victory that put the Shamrocks into the Division I, Region 2 final.
Second-seeded Coffman took advantage of an injury to Toledo Whitmer quarterback Riley Keller and cruised to a 43-20 win over the third-seeded Panthers on Nov. 9 in a regional semifinal at Harding Stadium.
Coffman improved to 11-1 and will play fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in the regional championship game Nov. 16 at a site to be determined. The Patriots (8-4) defeated top-seeded Reynoldsburg 10-0 in their semifinal.
The Shamrocks trailed 14-9 after PaSean Wimberly scored on a 99-yard kickoff return with 8 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. After Coffman punted to the Panthers’ 26, linebacker Devon Williams sacked Keller on a clean, blind-side tackle and forced a fumble that was recovered by Whitmer on its own 1-yard line.
The Division I college prospect lay on the turf for several minutes before walking to the sideline with five minutes remaining in the second quarter. He did not return.
“Without him, they were a totally different team,” Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. “It really changed the complexion of the game.”
Williams said he used his quickness to get around 6-foot-5, 330-pound tackle Darrin Washington to make the hit on Keller.
“I was able to get around their big guy (Washington) and I was there,” Williams said. “His arm went up to throw and that’s when I tackled him.”
The Shamrocks then scored four consecutive touchdowns — two in the waning minutes of the first half and two more in the first three minutes of the second half — to build a 37-14 lead.
Whitmer replaced Keller with Tommy Colbert, a sophomore who fumbled the first snap from center in the second half. Noah Smith recovered the fumble at the Panthers’ 19 and three plays later Coffman quarterback Ethan Brown scored on a 1-yard run.
On the first play of Whitmer's next possession, Williams recovered another fumble at the Panthers’ 12.
One play later, Mike Drennen rushed for his second 12-yard touchdown with 10:25 left in the third quarter. It was Coffman’s second score in 21 seconds.
“When Riley went down, it really limited what we could do,” said Whitmer coach Ken Winters, whose team had three turnovers. “That being said, we made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a team like this.”
Brown rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and completed 10 of 16 passes for 149 yards with one touchdown. Moussa Diallo had 44 yards and one score on 15 carries.
Drennen rushed six times for 53 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 81 yards.
Keller was 4-for-6 passing for 58 yards and one touchdown for the Panthers, who finished 9-3.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final TOLEDO WHITMER 7 7 6 0 20 DUBLIN COFFMAN
6 17 14 6 43
DC—Drennen 12 run (kick failed)
TW—Galdieux 44 pass from Keller (Gibbons kick)
DC—Mitchell 25 FG
TW—Wimberley 99 kickoff return (Gibbons kick)
DC—Williamson 17 pass from Brown (Mitchell kick)
DC—Diallo 1 run (Mitchell kick)
DC—Brown 1 run (Mitchell kick)
DC—Drennen 12 run (Mitchell kick)
TW—Myers 3 run (kick failed)
DC—Brown 2 run (kick failed)