Strong defensive effort comes up just short for Wildcats
By FRANK DiRENNA ThisWeek Contributor
Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White took a few moments from his postgame interview to console senior Tyler Backstrom.
Backstrom and his teammates put up a gallant fight against undefeated Pickerington Central before dropping a 7-3 decision in the Division I Region 3 final at Upper Arlington. The top-seeded Wildcats closed the season at 11-2.
"It's frustrating to see the class, work ethic and the character that our kids have, have to lose this game," White said.
Third-seeded Central improved to 13-0 and advances to a state semifinal Saturday, likely against Cincinnati Elder, which defeated Cincinnati Colerain 27-20 in double overtime.
Davidson trailed 7-3 at the half and had its chances in the second half.
The Wildcats controlled the ball for all but six plays in the final quarter and moved deep into Tigers territory twice, but were denied each time.
Davidson took possession of the ball for the final time this season at its 45-yard line with 2:51 remaining and drove to the Tigers' 22 before losing the ball on downs in the final minute.
The Wildcats opened the quarter by holding the ball for the first 8 minutes, 11 seconds before kicker J.D. Detmer's 26-yard field -oal attempt sailed wide.
"Like in every big game that we play, our goal is to make them earn their win and our goal is to be in it in the fourth quarter with a chance to win," White said. "That held true to form tonight, but we weren't able to pull out a win."
Davidson took advantage of a fumble by Central quarterback Nick Raymond on the game's first possession to open the scoring as Detmer was good from 42 yards with 2:58 left in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats defense held Central's offense in check for most of the game, but it was the special teams that provided the winning score.
Faced with a 4th-and-6 from the Davidson 38, reserve quarterback Josh Kristoff connected with Patrick White for a 38-yard touchdown on a faked punt with 9:44 remaining in the half.
"We made a very crucial mistake on our punt return," White said. "We didn't cover up on their wideout. They exploited our mistake, and we made a couple other mistakes during the game."
Davidson rushed for 137 yards on 47 carries, led by senior Ryan Meadows, who had 59 yards on 19 attempts.
Central rushed for 141 yards on 29 carries, led by Jamie Wood's 72 yards on seven attempts.
PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 0 7 0 0 - 7
HILLIARD DAVIDSON 3 0 0 0 - 3
HD - Detmer 42 FG
PC - White 38 pass from Kristoff (Raymond kick)
AT A GLANCE
- Stars: Central junior Josh Kristoff, who threw a 38-yard touchdown pass, and Central senior Jamie Wood, who rushed for 72 yards on seven carries. Both also played key roles defensively as Davidson gained only 157 yards.
- Key play: Trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, Central's special teams provided the game-winning score as Josh Kristoff connected with Patrick White for a 38-yard touchdown on a faked punt.
- Key stats: Davidson's potent ground attack was limited to 137 yards on 47 carries, and the Wildcats drove inside the Tigers' 40-yard line on all three second-half possessions but failed to score.