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Central Catholic falls in state semifinal

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    Central Catholic's De'Marko Criag Jr. (55) is consoled by teammate Matthew Griffin after a 16-7 loss to Trotwood-Madison in the state semifinals.

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    Central Catholic's Troy Durden-Scott Jr. finds running room during Friday's state semifinal game against Trotwood-Madison in Piqua. Central Catholic lost, 16-7.

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  • SPT-Central25-12

    Central Catholic's Troy Durden-Scott Jr. (10) and Jase Bowen celebrate an early touchdown during Friday's state semifinal game.

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  • SPT-Central25-1

    Central Catholic's Troy Durden-Scott Jr. outruns Trotwood-Madison's Kennedy Coates.

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    Trotwood-Madison players react to a touchdown during a state semifinal game against Central Catholic Friday in Piqua. Central Catholic's season came to an end with a 16-7 loss.

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    Central Catholic's Jase Bowen (4) smiles after scoring a touchdown in a state semifinal game against Trotwood-Madison.

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    Trotwood-Madison's Sam Anderson can't catch up to Central Catholic's Sean Blue Jr.

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  • SPT-Central25-5

    Central Catholic's Andreas Montoya reflects from the bench as the clock ticks down on a 16-7 loss to Trotwood-Madison in the state semifinals Friday in Piqua.

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    Central Catholic's Jase Bowen walks off the field after Friday's season-ending loss to Trotwood-Madison.

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  • SPT-Central25-8

    Trotwood-Madison's Dallas Daniels, left, defends against Central Catholic's Jase Bowen during a state semifinal game Friday in Piqua. Central Catholic's season came to an end at 11-3.

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  • SPT-Central25-9

    A pass goes incomplete to Central Catholic's Michael Griffin.

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    Central Catholic's Devin Sample (23), left, and Zachary Farrugia walk off the field after Friday's loss to Trotwood-Madison.

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    Central Catholic's Jase Bowen celebrates after a touchdown against Trotwood-Madison.

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    Central Catholic's Jase Bowen makes a catch that would end up being called back after a penalty.

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  • SPT-Central25-15

    Central Catholic's Dallas Fields (19) celebrates a defensive stop during Friday's state semifinal game against Trotwood-Madison.

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SPT-Central25-6

Central Catholic's De'Marko Criag Jr. (55) is consoled by teammate Matthew Griffin after a 16-7 loss to Trotwood-Madison in the state semifinals.

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PIQUA — If Cen­tral Cath­o­lic was go­ing to have a chance at up­set­ting top-ranked Trot­wood-Madi­son in Fri­day night’s Divi­sion III state foot­ball semi­fi­nal, the Fight­ing Ir­ish needed a su­perb ef­fort on de­fense.

Cen­tral got that, ex­cept for one big play by the Rams late in the game.

Bot­tled up for most of the game, Trot­wood’s All-Ohio run­ning back Raveion Har­grove broke off a 77-yard touch­down run with 4:48 re­main­ing, ic­ing his team’s 16-7 vic­tory at Pi­qua’s Al­ex­an­der Sta­dium.

Be­fore that play, the ever-dan­ger­ous Har­grove — who came in with 2,000 rush­ing yards and 28 touch­downs on the sea­son — had been held to 47 yards on his first 17 car­ries, and Trot­wood’s only pre­vi­ous points in the game had come off of Cen­tral spe­cial-teams mis­cues on two blocked punts.

VIDEO: Central Catholic falls in state semifinals

“The de­fense showed up to­night,” said 18th-year Cen­tral coach Greg Demp­sey, who has guided the Ir­ish to three state cham­pi­on­ships since 2005. “Spe­cial teams de­cided the game, and a lot of pen­al­ties hurt us.

“The de­fense didn’t hurt us at all. They gave up one touch­down and peo­ple were count­ing on them giv­ing up five to­night. They gave ev­ery­thing they had and played an awe­some game.”

After the Ir­ish (11-3) had grabbed a 7-0 lead on Jase Bowen’s 1-yard run around right end with 4:42 into the first quar­ter.

The Rams (14-0) blocked a Bowen punt and Taron Britt re­cov­ered in the end zone for a touch­down with 39 sec­onds left in the first.

Trot­wood’s sec­ond punt block on Bowen re­sulted in a safety and a 9-7 lead with 6:32 left in the third quar­ter.

“The spe­cial-teams break­downs killed us to­night,” Demp­sey said. “Nine out of the 16 points — do the math. And, we’ve got to con­vert and fin­ish some drives, which we didn’t do.

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Central Catholic's Troy Durden-Scott Jr. (10) and Jase Bowen celebrate an early touchdown during Friday's state semifinal game.

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“The lit­tle things add up in big games like this, es­pe­cially against a team that’s that good.”

Har­grove fin­ished with 127 yards on 21 car­ries.

These two teams have met five times in the past six years in the play­offs, with Cen­tral win­ning the first three, and Trot­wood tak­ing the last two.

The Ir­ish beat T-M 16-12 in the 2012 Divi­sion II state cham­pi­on­ship game, then topped the Rams in the 2014 and 2015 D-III semi­fi­nals. An in­spired Trot­wood took some re­venge last sea­son, blank­ing Cen­tral 36-0 in a state semi­fi­nal played at Lima Se­nior.

Per­haps mo­ti­vated by that lop­sided loss, and look­ing for re­demp­tion, the Ir­ish brought their A-game de­fen­sively.

The Rams came in av­er­ag­ing 52 points per game, and their of­fense man­aged just 235 yards and seven points in this game, which was not de­cided un­til Har­grove’s late touch­down run ba­si­cally put the game out of reach for a Cen­tral of­fense that to­taled 200 yards.

The Ir­ish de­fense also kept the Rams’ stand­out quar­ter­back, Markell Ste­phens-Pep­pers pretty much un­der wraps. He was 10-of-22 pass­ing for 74 yards, and rushed 10 times for just 17 yards. He en­tered the game with 35 touch­down passes.

“We came to play to­night,” Demp­sey said. “We gave them ev­ery­thing that they could han­dle, I think. I’m not big into moral vic­to­ries, but we’re not leav­ing with any re­grets in terms of our ef­fort, and the pas­sion we played with to­night.”

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Central Catholic's Troy Durden-Scott Jr. finds running room during Friday's state semifinal game against Trotwood-Madison in Piqua. Central Catholic lost, 16-7.

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The lone Ir­ish scor­ing drive cov­ered 48 yards on eight plays af­ter Cen­tral gained pos­ses­sion af­ter a short 23-yard punt by the Rams.

Ir­ish quar­ter­back Troy Dur­den’s runs of 10 and 3 yards were fol­lowed by Bowen’s 8-yard carry out of the wild­cat for­ma­tion to the Rams’ 1-yard line. He scored on the next play.

“Our se­niors lived up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of our pro­gram, which are pretty high,” said Demp­sey of his team’s fourth con­sec­u­tive state semi­fi­nal ad­vance­ment and fifth in six sea­sons. “To­night stings, but this was a spe­cial sea­son. I can’t be any prouder of the team.

“It wasn’t easy get­ting here com­pared to what it was the past cou­ple years, and these guys grinded it out and still got us here. They gave us a chance to win to­night, and that’s all you can ask from a fi­nal-four game.”

Contact Steve Junga at sjunga@theblade.com419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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