CINCINNATI – For the fourth time in five years, the Carroll Patriots registered an OHSAA playoff win with a convincing 38-28 victory over Cincinnati Withrow Friday night at Angus King Stadium in a Division II, Region 8 regional quarterfinals match up.
But the sixth-seeded Patriots had to pull off the win in come-from-behind fashion.
Withrow (9-2) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the game on a 65-yard Jelani Alford punt return for a touchdown and a 20-yard Juandez Brown scoring strike to Brandin Solamon following a Tigers interception just five minutes into the game.
Carroll (10-1) settled in, though, scoring 38 straight points, including 24 in the first half and on two of its first three possessions in the second half.
“Our kids have been in a lot of big games and they’re not going to fold,” said Carroll head coach Steve Bartlett. “That’s their job and they know. that You’ve got kids out here that have played in state semifinal games and regional championship games and these kids are not going to fold in a first round playoff game.”
The Patriots outgained Withrow 489-246 in total offense led by the running back tandem of David McComas and Adam Fearing. McComas tallied 250 yards rushing on 31 carries and two touchdowns while Fearing added 93 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
McComas also had two catches for 76 yards.
“Our running backs take a lot of pride in running the ball and our offensive line takes a lot of pride in it,” Bartlett said. “We just kept talking about putting together a couple patented Carroll drives – those nice seven or eight minute drives where you score at the end.”
Carroll held the time of possession edge 34:27 to 13:33, respectively.
Patriots QB Michael Escobar was 3-of-7 passing for 120 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to Evan Daubenmire just before halftime.
Withrow’s spread offense struggled to get into a rhythm against the Carroll defense with the Patriots getting good pressure on Brown and the secondary covering Withrow’s athletic receivers well.
DE Mike Keller had two sacks as well as a forced fumble and recovered fumble in the second quarter that set up a 41-yard McComas touchdown run on the very next play tying the game 14-14.
“Mike Keller has had a great year and has done a lot of great things for our defense,” said Bartlett. “He had another great night and gave an all-league performance tonight.”
Brown was 17-of-37 passing for 250 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also has a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Brendan Williams lead all Withrow receivers with 106 yards on seven catches.
Alford had two catches for 50 yards including a 22-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter.
“We had some chances early on to increase the lead and we didn’t make the plays and (Carroll) made some plays,” Withrow head coach Doc Gamble said. “They didn’t let down at all when we jumped out early.”
The Withrow running game netted -4 yards on the night.
“Our running game was nonexistent tonight and that is a testament to (Carroll),” Gamble said. “They’ve been playing good defense throughout the season.”
Carroll kicker Mackenzie Spalla was 5-for-5 on extra point attempts and hit a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Patriots will take on two-seed Cincinnati Anderson (9-2) in the regional semifinals next week. Anderson edged Kings Mills Kings 14-6 in the regional quarter finals.