fresh in his mind, Housewright rushed for two touchdowns and threw for
another in the Ashland's 21-14 win over Sylvania Southview in the
Division II, Region 6 championship game. The Arrows (12-1) advance to the state semifinals Nov. 23. Southview concludes the season at 11-2.
FREMONT – Taylor Housewright and the Ashland Arrows found redemption Friday night at Don Paul Stadium.
With memories of last year's regional final loss to Piqua still fresh in his mind, Housewright rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another in the Ashland's 21-14 win over Sylvania Southview in the Division II, Region 6 championship game.
The Arrows (12-1) advance to the state semifinals Nov. 23. Southview concludes the season at 11-2.
“We had a lot to prove after last year,” said Housewright, who threw three interceptions in the 27-0 loss to Piqua. “I had been looking forward to this chance all season.
“Our goal has been to get past where we were last year. We've accomplished it but now we want to go all the way.”
Housewright completed 23 of 33 passes for 162 yards and rushed for 42 yards, accounting for 204 of Ashland's 215 yards from scrimmage. But his fourth-quarter fumble gave the Cougars life with 3:41 left in regulation, setting up a frantic finish.
“I had the fumble, but the defense picked us up,” Housewright said. “That's what great teams do.”
Southview took over at its own 33-yard line after the Housewright fumble and pieced together one final drive. Griff Whalen, who split time at quarterback with Alex Pidcock, had a pair of big runs to set the Cougars up at their own 45 yard line as the clock ticked under two minutes.
Whalen's first-down pass attempt was incomplete then on second down, Pidcock completed a 6-yard pass to senior wideout Robert Gajewicz along the Southview sideline. Gajewicz appeared to fall out of bounds but the official ruled he was inbounds, costing the Cougars valuable seconds.
“Why didn't they stop the clock? I don't know,” Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “I have no idea.”
Southview eventually advanced the ball to the Ashland 33 but on fourth-and-three with less than 15 seconds remaining, the Cougars were flagged for a false start. The officials reset the ball and restarted the clock. Pidcock's fourth-down pass to Gajewicz was complete at the Ashland 25 as time expired, sending the partisan Ashland crowd into a frenzy.
“It was a little bit of a scramble there at the end,” Ashland defensive back Tyler McFarlin said. “We knew they had to get to the line in a hurry to get the play off, but we were prepared.”
McFarlin had what turned out to be the play of the game late in the second quarter. With the score tied 14-14 and less than a minute to play before halftime, he stepped in front of a Pidcock pass at the Southview 37 yard line, tight-roping the Ashland sideline. Six plays later, Housewright threw a strike to Anthony Fairhurst for a 14-yard score and a 21-14 lead.
“I was responsible for the deep flat and when I got to my zone, the quarterback threw it,” McFarlin said. “I don't know if he was trying to throw to his receiver or throw it out of bounds, but I was able to make a play on it. When you score all those points in the first half, you think it's going to be a shootout.”
The shootout never materialized in the second half, however, as the defenses took control of the game. Southview's best scoring opportunity came midway through the fourth quarter when the Cougars moved the ball to the Ashland 19. On fourth-and-nine, Mayzes sent out kicker Shaun Joplin to attempt a 38-yarder but, after a time out, called Joplin off the field and opted to go for it instead. The move backfired as Whalen was tackled for no gain, giving the ball back to the Arrows.
“Both teams made good adjustments defensively,” Ashland coach Scott Valentine said. “It became a battle of field position in the second half and our guys just kept battling.
“We had the late fumble, but we couldn't feel sorry for ourselves. Then there at the end, they were scrambling around but you feel a lot better in that situation when you're playing with the lead.”
Housewright completed passes to seven different receivers. Fairhurst led the way with five grabs for 53 yards.
Pidcock rushed for 88 yards and both Southview touchdowns on 17 carries. Whalen added 65 yards on 15 attempts.
“We beat a heck of a team tonight,” McFarlin said. “To win this game … words can't explain it. It's beyond great.”