crunch time. Housewright, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass late in
the fourth quarter of a comeback win against Lexington last week,
connected with Anthony Fairhurst on a 24-yard scoring strike with 2:06
to play and the Arrows held on for a 28-21 win over Olentangy Liberty
in a Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal tilt at Community Stadium.
ASHLAND — For the second straight week, Ashland’s back was against the wall and, for the second straight week, Taylor Housewright delivered in crunch time.
Housewright, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter of a comeback win against Lexington last week, connected with Anthony Fairhurst on a 24-yard scoring strike with 2:06 to play and the Arrows held on for a 28-21 win over Olentangy Liberty in a Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal tilt at Community Stadium.
The Arrows (10-1) will play Avon Lake (11-0) in the regional semifinals next week at a site to be determined Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The Shoremen roughed up Midview 50-13.
Housewright’s heroics came after the Arrows squandered a 21-0 first-half lead. The Patriots (8-3) tied the score early in the fourth quarter on Allen Eggleston’s 2-yard run, his second TD.
But Housewright wouldn’t be denied. The Arrows took over on downs at their own 34 with 6:20 remaining when the strong-armed senior went to work.
He completed five consecutive passes on the game-winning drive. Two of his completions went for negative yardage, however, as the speedy Liberty defense sniffed out a pair of screens to Logan Kerr. On the game-winning TD toss, Housewright faked the screen and when the Liberty defense bit, he gathered himself and found Fairhurst all alone down the near sideline.
“Their linebackers did a great job of jumping the bubble screens. Their defense was very disciplined,” Housewright said. “I saw the cornerback cheating up and we faked (the screen) and went up top to Anthony. That was their first mishap and we finally made a play.
“That comes from playing together forever. I know where (the receivers) are going to be and they know where I want them.”
Fairhurst, who caught six passes for 90 yards, said he and Housewright were on the same page.
“We had run the play a couple of times and they did a nice job of stuffing the screens in the backfield,” he said. “I told Taylor to fake the bubble and that’s what he did.”
The Patriots had one final chance but on fourth-and-10 from the Ashland 47, Liberty quarterback Ryan Cypret was tripped up by Ashland outside linebacker Alex Hill and the Arrows regained possession with just over a minute remaining.
“We brought Alex on a blitz and he came up with a very big play there at the end for us,” Ashland coach Scott Valentine said. “He got (Cypret) by the shoe strings, but fortunately that’s all he needed.”
The slippery Cypret nearly eluded Hill.
“I knew it was a big play. If we stopped him, we would win the game,” Hill said. “When I saw him go down, it was a great feeling.”
Ashland’s late-game fireworks wouldn’t have been necessary were it not for a spirited Liberty comeback. The Patriots scored on their final drive of the first half when Cypret hooked up with Kyle Kready on a 9-yard TD strike, then took the second-half kickoff and marched 70 yards on 14 plays to trim Ashland’s advantage to 21-14 on Eggleston’s 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
“We had some early miscues, but we kept telling the kids not to panic,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “We said the same thing at the half and the kids did a great job of fighting back.”
Housewright completed 16 of 20 passes for 193 yards and two TDs and added rushing TDs of 1 and 25 yards. He spent most of the second half running for his life against a stout Liberty defense.
“The defense played extremely well in the third quarter,” Hale said. “We got pressure on Housewright and got him off his game a little bit.”
“Their defensive line was quick and they wouldn’t let me get outside the pocket,” he said. “I scrambled around a little too much back there.”
Ashland running back Jordan Icenhour enjoyed a career night, rushing for 96 yards on five carries. His 61-yard run on Ashland’s first play from scrimmage set up Ashland’s first score.
Eggleston picked up 71 hard-earned yards on 23 carries, while Cypret was 11-of-21 passing for 181 yards. Kready had five catches for 68 yards, while Trevor Van Scoy caught three passes for 83 yards.