Matt Natali was on hand and has the details.
The 2005 state champion Bombers relied on defense and senior standout Danny Milligan to edge Dublin Coffman 10-7 in the state semifinals at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium in front of a near capacity crowd of over 11,000 fans.
Averaging nearly 33 points per game coming into Saturday’s game, St. Xavier (14-0) was held to its lowest scoring output of the season but it was just enough to get past the Coffman (13-1) for a state title game berth.
“I think if you would have asked anybody if this game would have turned out 10-7, they would have looked at you cross-eyed,” said St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht. “These are two pretty explosive offenses but the defenses came to play today.
“It is the state semifinals and you’ve got two 13-0 teams going after it and we escaped with one today. We have to take our hats off to Dublin Coffman. That is a great football team and we are fortunate to be moving on.”
The Bombers got on the board first with 1:38 left in the first quarter on an 8-yard Milligan TD run racing to the corner of the end zone after a fake dive to RB Darius Ashley.
Milligan added a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to put St. Xavier up 10-0 with 11:14 left in the game.
Coffman answered on the ensuing possession orchestrating a 10 play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard QB sneak by senior Zach Stoudt to cut St. Xavier’s lead to 10-7.
The Shamrocks threatened in the closing moments of the game marching deep into St. Xavier territory. Stoudt connected with WR Trey Fairchild at the St. Xavier 8 on third down but with the clock running and no timeouts left time ran out on Coffman’s season punching St. Xavier’s ticket to Canton.
“It was coming down to the wire and we were limited to what we could do coverage-wise because we didn’t want to give them anything easy,” Specht said about Coffman’s final drive.
Coffman head coach Mark Crabtree said, “We had a chance at the end zone at the end and we didn’t quite get there. I was hoping – at worst – to get a field goal to tie it and go to overtime.
“We are disappointed in our offensive performance but certainly not in the defensive performance. We had a chance to win the game in the end and that was what we were asking ourselves to do.”
Coffman, averaging over 38 points per game, was also held to its lowest scoring output of the season.
“When you look at the score it might look like a bad offensive game but it was just two great defenses going at it,” said Milligan.
Coffman held a 247-204 advantage in total yards in the game, respectively, led by Stoudt with 199 yards passing on 16-of-39 passing, the TD on the ground in the fourth quarter and three INTs.
Fairchild had 83 yards receiving on five catches including a 27-yard reception on third down and 27 on Coffman’s scoring drive.
Ashley collected 88 yards on 29 carries.
St. Xavier, ranked No. 1 in the final Division I Ohio High-ONN Power Poll and No. 5 in the country by USA Today, will take on 2006 Division I state runner up Mentor (11-2) 7:00 p.m. next Saturday at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium for the state championship.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
Saturday’s game was the second all-time meeting between St. Xavier and Coffman – the first coming in the 2001 state semifinals with the Bombers advancing to the Division I title game with a 35-14 win over the Shamrocks.