LIMA — Toledo St. John’s is in the playoffs.
But the Titans needed a win in hopes of a first-round home game.
St. John’s quarterback Brady Lichtenberg powered the Titans in that direction with a 46-28 victory over Lima Senior in the regular-season finale Friday at Spartan Stadium.
St. John’s (7-3, 5-2 Three Rivers Athletic Conference) clinched a spot in the playoffs last week and is in a battle for a first-round home game, which go to the top four spots in the computer rankings.
Lima Senior finished its season 3-7, 1-6 in the TRAC.
The 6-foot-2 junior Lichtenberg showed why he’s being recruited by several Big Ten schools.
He finished the night completing 23 of 33 for 249 yards. He threw five TD passes (23, 23, 19, 45, 35).
Thomas Zsiros had seven catches for 128 yards with TDs of 45 and 35 yards.
Sophomore Cecil Benton Jr., normally a wide receiver, started for the Spartans at quarterback for the second straight week.
Spartans regular quarterback E.J. Cameron went academically ineligible after Week 7.
That changed the Spartans’ attack into more of a run-first approach, featuring plenty of Benton running the ball on quarterback keepers.
Benton ended up with 21 carries for 167 yards. He had scampers of 36 and 30 yards.
“The last time I started at quarterback (besides last week) was the eighth grade,” Benton said. “I knew I had to step up to the role and do it for the team. I knew it was the team over just me. Tonight I had some openings and was just trying to take advantage of what the defense was giving me.’’
In the air, Benton was 9 of 18 for 86 yards. He had two interceptions.
Lima Senior’s Jawan Anderson finished with 52 yards on 10 carries.
Lima Senior got on the board first when Lichtenberg went back to pass and the ball slipped out of his hand.
The Spartans’ La’Quint Luster recovered the ball at the St. John’s 44 and took it back 40 yards to the St. John’s 4.
Three plays later, Anderson ran it over from the 1 to give Lima Senior a quick 6-0 lead with 9:15 left in the first quarter.
Back came Lichtenberg.
The Titans’ quarterback took his team down the field in six plays for a 52-yard drive.
Lichtenberg’s 23-yard TD pass to Jack Ryder pushed St. John’s ahead 7-6 with 7:24 left in the first quarter.
Lima Senior was hurting itself in the first half with one lost fumble, three interceptions and 10 penalties for 95 yards.
One of those interceptions came when Lima Senior punter Isaiah Funches-Foster scrambled for the snap on the punt which went over his head. Then, he tried to throw it and it was picked off St. John’s Dean Romaker at the Lima Senior 30 and took back to the 23.
On St. John’s next play, Lichtenberg fired a 23-yard TD strike to Dmitri Mitsopoulos.
That gave the Titans a 14-6 lead with 2:01 left in the first quarter.
St. John’s settled for back-to-back field goals, with Gabriel Chelbowski kicking field goals of 20 and 29 yards.
That pushed the St. John’s lead to 20-6 with 6:39 left before halftime.
Once more, Lichtenberg connected with Ryder on a 19-yard TD pass.
That pushed the St. John’s lead to 26-6 with 2:27 left in the second quarter.
Lima Senior got within 26-12 on a 21-yard TD pass from Benton to Larry Ragland with 11 seconds left before the half.
St. John’s got up 39-12 with 4:03 left in the third quarter after Lichtenberg fired his fifth TD pass.
At that point, St. John’s told Lichtenberg to take a seat and several other starters went with him.
Lima Senior’s Shannon Allen had TD runs of 3 and 27 yards in the final quarter to pull the Spartans with 46-28.
In the end, besides the passing of Lichtenberg, the Spartans made too many mistakes.
Lima Senior lost two fumbles and had three interceptions. It also racked up 14 penalties for 125 yards.
For Benton, who has two more years, he said he’ll be ready for next season, no matter what position he plays.
“For me, personally, I have to go back to the weight room and get bigger and get faster and come back stronger,” Benton Jr. said. “And everybody else has to have the same mentality.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.