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WEST CHESTER – Preble Shawnee continues its march in the state playoffs with a quality win over a perennial powerhouse – No. 2 seeded Roger Bacon. The Roger Bacon Spartans are the defending Regional Champs of 2020, but they will be in the stands this year as the Arrows won in come from behind fashion 35-28. With the win this will advance them to the Regional finals against Versailles.
Uncharacteristically for the Arrows, they turned over the ball four times on the night. They gave up 2-interceptions and 2-fumbles. You don’t want to give gifts to a quality team and that is what Shawnee was doing. They also had a knack for giving up big plays to the Spartans. That combination had Preble Shawnee looking at a 21-6 deficit at one point in the first half. The team was slow to get started.
Coach Dave Maddox, “We overcame adversity in the first half. That wasn’t who we are. Once we got over the shock of playing on this field and a physical team like that we settled in. We have not faced a team that good this year. But our offense and defense stepped up after half time. We played our style of football in the second half.”
Roger Bacon’s first half scoring was on a 55-yard punt return for a TD, an 81-yard run for a TD, and a 21-yard run. Quarterback Brayden Doran put Shawnee on the board with an improbable run. He ran around the end, appeared to go down when he was hit – but there was no whistle. He had landed on top of the defender, not the ground. He sprinted down the sideline 92-yards for the score.
Still as the clock wound down to halftime, Shawnee was looking at a 15-point deficit. With 28-seconds left on the clock they started on their own 35-yard line. Many teams would have just taken a knee and regrouped in the locker room, but not the underdog Arrows.
They got the ball to midfield and this is where the offensive coordinator earned his pay as Shawnee executed a double pass for a 55-yard touchdown. It was a roll of the dice worth taking and it paid off. Doran threw a swing pass to Grady Hutchinson, who pulled up short and hurled the ball downfield to a wide open Dylan Campbell for the score.
The touchdown gave the Arrows a big boost as they now entered the locker room with momentum – and they grew confidence for the second half as they saw that they could play with the Spartans.
“It gave us some momentum going into halftime.” Maddox stated. “It opened our eyes that hey we can move the ball, we can score, we can play with these guys.”
In the second half, the game evolved into the passing of the Spartans against the running game of the Arrows. The Arrow defense virtually shut down the running game of the Spartans. But the Spartans found that they could use their quickness to get open on passes. And although Shawnee threw some short passes, the offensive line began to wear down the defense of the Spartans. You could feel the line imposing their will on the opposition and this opened up running lanes for Doran and Hunter Crockett.
“Our line played their butts off,” Maddox said. “Once they got rolling they were able to move the line of scrimmage. Our line was amazing on both sides of the ball.”
Although Crockett was able to peel off some decent runs, you could see that he was getting extra attention from Roger Bacon. Every time he was tackled, there were 3-4 defenders on him. But with the extra attention on him, that gave Doran his chance to excel.
This has been part of Shawnee’s success in the playoffs – each week someone has been stepping up to make big plays. For defensive coordinators it has been like a game of whack-a-mole. You stop one facet of the Arrows game and some else pops up to makes plays. Quarterback Brayden Doran is small in stature, but he had big shoulders in this game as he ran for three scores in the second half.
The last 5 minutes of the game were an emotional roller coaster. The Shawnee coaching staff must have sprouted a few gray hairs as their fortunes rose and then fell. Doran had capped off a drive with a 7-yard TD run to give Shawnee their forst lead of the night 28-21.
After stopping Roger Bacon on their next possession, Shawnee got the ball back at midfield with 4-minutes left. Fans had to be thinking – just grind out the clock for the win. But the Spartans had fight left in them and forced a fumble. Now the Spartans were back in business.
They threw a 48-yard TD pass to tie the score 28-all. There were 3-minutes left and folks had to be wondering if this game was now headed to overtime. The Arrows got the ball back and Doran had a phenomenal 58-yard kickoff return. Both Crockett and Doran had some good carries behind the Arrow line who kept the line of scrimmage moving forward.
“It was one of the few returnable kicks we had tonight and it was great,” Coach Maddox noted. “Brayden can do everything. Some of the runs that he had – I thought he would run out of bounds. But he would lower his head and deliver a hit and go for 2-3 more yards. He is tough, he is really, really tough.”
As the clock wound down, you had to wonder when Shawnee would take to the air. The ground game was definitely working, but the clock was winding down. The strategy had to be to use as much clock as possible so that the Spartans would not have much time to throw a ‘Hail Mary’. The danger was that you would run out of time before scoring. But Doran took care of this chess match by a weaving 12-yard touchdown run where he slid away from three different tacklers to get into the end zone with 12-seconds left in the game.
Roger Bacon fielded the kickoff and then had time for one pass which did gain yardage, but the clock showed double 0’s when the whistle blew on that play. The Arrow stands erupted in celebration. It had been a hard fought battle against a physical team and the Arrows had prevailed.
“I am so proud of how well they played and how hard they fought,” said Maddox. “It has been a season where you wonder how many more can you win, but we just want to keep rolling. We are happy to have come this far. It has exceeded my expectations. We are happy for the players that their hard work is paying off. It’s been great for the school, the team, the community.”
“I told the team that we are not going into this game expecting to compete,” Coach Maddox concluded. “We are going into this game to compete and to win. They fought like crazy and came out on top. It’s the most physical game we have played all season. Once we got settled and played our game we competed. I told them it’s just a football game, it’s no different from any other. Now it’s time to rest and then focus on next week.”
Chris Tilton has covered sports in Southwest Ohio for the past 23 years and has lived in Southwest Ohio most of his life.
He is mostly retired and continues to enjoy travel in the USA and hs been to Asia and Europe. Chris continues to work as a freelance writer.
His Hobbies include fishing and computer gaming.
Chris lives on a 32 acre farm in the Camden area. He has 10 grandchildren the he enjoys spending time with when he is not covering sports or traipsing around the country.