In a matchup where scoring chances were limited by strong defense, the Groveport Madison football team took advantage of the biggest break in a tight rematch against Olentangy Liberty in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal Nov. 15 at Gahanna.
The fourth-seeded Cruisers surrendered what had been a one-score lead in the third quarter on a long pass, but a 19-yard punt by the top-seeded Patriots gave them the ball at the Liberty 20 to set up what proved to be the game-winning score.
Five plays after the punt, Groveport’s Emmanuel Anthony scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 6 minutes, 25 seconds left and the Cruisers went on to a 13-7 victory.
Groveport improved to 10-2 and will compete for a regional title for the first time when it faces second-seeded Pickerington Central on Nov. 22 at a neutral site.
Liberty, which had beaten the Cruisers 21-14 on Sept. 27, finished 10-2.
“It’s unbelievable,” Groveport senior defensive lineman Jasiyah Robinson said. “They beat us in the regular season, so we knew it was revenge week. We knew what we had to do and just got it done.”
Liberty tied the game at 7 with 1:44 left in the third quarter when quarterback Corbin Parrish hit A.J. Rausch for a 71-yard touchdown pass.
Groveport punted on the ensuing drive and Liberty fumbled the return, but the Patriots’ Matthew Barrett fell on the ball at his team’s 2-yard line.
Parrish, who missed most of the season with an injury, left with an injury during the next series and Liberty was forced to punt from its own 1, setting up the game-winning possession.
Late in the game, Groveport had another chance to score, but was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 1:24 left.
With no timeouts remaining, the Patriots moved to the Groveport 48 before the clock ran out.
“I thought our defense played well and offensively we were able to put a drive together,” Cruisers coach Bryan Schoonover said. “It was an overall team win for us.”
Groveport scored the only touchdown of the first half with 1:55 left in the first quarter on a 4-yard run by Jalil Underdown.
That capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive that came after the Cruisers took over on downs at their own 34.
Groveport’s Te’ron Coleman blocked a punt by Parrish at the Patriots’ 38 with 1:03 to go before halftime but couldn’t score.
The Cruisers limited Liberty to 33 yards rushing while getting 109 yards rushing on 25 carries from Jashaun McGraw, 71 yards rushing from Underdown and 70 yards rushing from Anthony.
“There’s no quit in them,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “Even when the game looked to be over on the 1-foot line, we’re still getting a goal-line stand.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final GROVEPORT 7 0 0 6 13 OLENTANGY LIBERTY
0 0 7 0 7
G—Underdown 4 run (Snyder kick)
L—Rausch 71 pass from Parrish (Rosselli kick)
G—Anthony 2 run (kick failed)