Even though Shaun Thomas was not on the field, he played a role in Lima Central Catholic’s win.
Despite losing Thomas, the team’s leading rusher and one its best defenders last week, to injury the Thunderbird machine continued its explosive offensive and defensive output to post a 41-14 win over Crestview in the Division Vll regional semifinal Friday night.
With the win LCC advances to the regional final against Hopewell-Loudon next Friday night. Crestview ends its season with a 7-2 mark.
“I thought our guys were really excited,” LCC head coach Scott Palte said. “I felt all week we were going to play one of our best football games. Our kids were motivated and inspired. I think some of them felt a little slighted that we weren’t going to be very good without Shaun and they had something to prove.”
Senior running back Rossy Moore, who had 159 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns, helped the Thunderbirds pounce on the Knights early and give LCC a 28-0 first quarter lead.
As was the case last week in the win against Mohawk last, LCC scored on its first three possessions and then got a big 47-yard punt return for a touchdown from Moore to open up the four touchdown advantage.
Moore scored two of those touchdowns on runs of five yards to cap off drives and Quintel Peoples also scored a touchdown in the first quarter when he ripped of a 31-yard run for paydirt.
“They have an incredibly talented group,” Crestview head coach Jared Owens said. “We talked a lot about the aggressiveness starting the game and how they like to get out quick and knowing what was going to happen we didn’t have answer for it tonight.”
Defensively, LCC contained the potent Crestview running game and the Knight by keying on Brody Brecht and Logan Gerardot. Brecht, who had 200 yard plus games early in two playoff games was limited to 77 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. Thirty-three of those yards came in the final seconds of the game facing LCC’s second team.
Brecht’s backfield mate, Gerardot had a little more success, gaining 121 yards.
“We couldn’t establish the running game and the way we our built that is a problem,” Owens said. “Our kids will never quit. Our coaching staff is never going to quit on us. The thing we try to do is teach the kids the right way to live the life and sometimes when you are up against it and your back is against the wall you have to fight for what you can get and tonight it wasn’t enough.”
The Thunderbirds, on Crestview’s first three drives, did not allow a run of five yards or more.
Crestview’s lone first half score came on a pass when Crestview quarterback J.J. Ward connected with Rontae Jackson on a 39 touchdown pass.
“We set the tone early right away and jumped on them and took them out of what they like to do and we just played a really good football game,” Palte said. “We wanted to make sure we him (Brecht) him in the backfield and made sure we got penetration and not give him a full head of steam going into the line of scrimmage.”
Palte said that one of the biggest aspects of the game was field position. LCC had short fields in the first half. LCC’s longest scoring drive in the first 12 minutes was 58 yards. Conversely, Crestview started its first drive at their own 10, second drive and third drives at their own 20 and its fourth drive at their own 17 yard line.
The LCC coach also added that scoring a special teams touchdown for the second straight week was also huge.
“We worked all week on punt return and punt block and kick-off return coverage and with our athletes we think we can make a difference,” Palte said. “We get teams started inside the 20 and we get the ball at the 40 or 50 your percentages go up a lot higher on your chances of scoring to drive the field so I thought that was a big part of the game.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.