With its backs against the wall and facing the possibility of a second consecutive lackluster loss to end its season, the Groveport Madison football team completely flipped the script on visiting Hilliard Davidson in a Division I, Region 3 first-round playoff game Nov. 8.

After being held to 28 total yards in the first half and ending five of their first seven possessions with a punt, the fourth-seeded Cruisers scored 18 points in the final 4 minutes, 36 seconds and possessed the ball for almost all of the final 3:43 to shock the fourth-seeded Wildcats 18-17.

Jalil Underdown had touchdown runs of 4 and 95 yards for Groveport, sandwiched around a 58-yard Davidson touchdown pass from quarterback Evan Tekancic to Johnny Weir that had given the Wildcats a 17-6 lead.

Underdown’s long touchdown run made it 17-12, and the Cruisers successfully executed an onside kick to start their next possession at their 39.

Groveport used its last timeout before converting a fourth-and-inches at the Davidson 20. Then on third-and-goal at the 4 with 19.9 seconds left, quarterback Colin Rice rolled left and found tight end R’rion Cobb in the back of the end zone.

“At first, I was jammed, but I found a soft spot in the defense and saw (Rice) and he threw it to me and I made sure I caught it,” said Cobb, who made only his second catch of the year. “We never gave up. We kept chipping away.”

Groveport improved to 9-2 and will play top-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at a neutral site. The Cruisers lost to the Patriots 21-14 on Sept. 27.

All three of Rice’s completions came in the fourth quarter, and neither team completed a pass until the final nine minutes.

“We had to do something big,” said Groveport coach Bryan Schoonover, whose team was coming off a 35-7 loss at New Albany to end the regular season Nov. 1. “We saw a play and flipped the formation and we were able to execute.”

The game was scoreless until a 28-yard field goal by the Wildcats’ Sean Carrier with 1:22 left in the third quarter.

Davidson, which finished 7-4, went ahead 10-0 when Kyle Pepera returned a fumble 19 yards for a touchdown with 6:58 left.

“We had some major screw-ups that just can’t happen,” Wildcats coach Brian White said. “The lesson learned, and it’s a tough lesson, is that you have to wait until the clock hits zero before you can assume anything has concluded.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

==========

Team 1 2 3 4 Final HILLIARD DAVIDSON 0 0 3 14 17 GROVEPORT
0 0 0 18 18

HD—Carrier 33 FG

HD—Pepera 19 fumble return (Carrier kick)

G—Underdown 4 run (kick failed)

HD—Weir 58 pass from Tekancic (Carrier kick)

G—Underdown 95 run (pass failed)

G—Anthony 4 pass from Rice (pass failed)