On a night when hanging on to the ball proved to be a struggle, the top-seeded Harvest Prep football team found itself trailing second-seeded Newark Catholic by one point late in the fourth quarter of the Division VII, Region 27 final Nov. 23 at Westerville Central.
Warriors running back Javon Eggert did much of the work as his team marched deep into Green Wave territory and Khelin Jackson scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run on third-and-goal with 26.9 seconds left to lift Harvest Prep to a 22-15 victory.
The Warriors improved to 12-1 and advanced to play Lucas in a state semifinal Nov. 30 at a site to be announced, while Newark Catholic finished 9-4.
“It was just get the ball in the end zone. It didn’t matter who put it in,” Jackson said. “We just prepared well all week to be a great team.”
Harvest Prep lost three fumbles, including one with 5:15 to go that gave Newark Catholic the ball at the Warriors’ 37.
Three plays later, quarterback Matt Carlisle hit Slater Evans for a 22-yard touchdown pass to give Newark Catholic a 15-14 lead with 3:36 left.
On the ensuing drive, quarterback Josiah Carroll completed a pair of passes, including one for 12 yards to De’Shawn Bonte, and Eggert ran for 25 yards as Harvest Prep moved to the Newark Catholic 22.
On third-and-1 from the 13, Eggert ran 3 yards to extend the drive, setting up Jackson’s score three plays later. Neiko St. Clair ran for the two-point conversion for the game’s final points.
Newark Catholic got to its own 47 on the ensuing drive, but Carlisle was intercepted by Rashaun Goines on the game’s final play.
“For the kids to continue to fight, it shows what kind of men they are becoming,” Warriors coach Milan Smith said. “I think I’ve got the best coaching staff in the state of Ohio. The guys stay to it and there wasn’t a single coach or a single player that got nervous.”
The Green Wave produced a safety and a 9-yard touchdown run by Carlisle in the first quarter, but Carroll ran for a 44-yard touchdown with 7:52 remaining in the second quarter to make it 9-7.
The Warriors took a 14-9 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Jackson with 3:41 left before halftime. That drive started at the Newark Catholic 40 following a 13-yard punt and also included a 28-yard pass from Carroll to St. Clair.
Eggert finished with 167 yards on 29 carries to lead Harvest Prep, which is making its second state semifinal appearance. Its first appearance was in 2016.
“The defense was stellar tonight,” Smith said. “Defense is effort.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final NEWARK CATHOLIC 9 0 0 6 15 HARVEST PREP
0 14 0 8 22
NC—Safety, punt snap goes out of end zone
NC—Carlisle 9 run (Auer kick)
HP—Carroll 44 run (Mungia kick)
HP—Jackson 10 run (Mungia kick)
NC—Evans 22 pass from Carlisle (pass failed)
HP—Jackson 5 run (St. Clair run)