FOSTORIA — Mason Roth says he prefers playing defense to offense.
The McComb senior would have a hard time convincing Mohawk football coach Erik Baker of that.
Roth did intercept two passes in a Division VI regional semifinal at Memorial Stadium Friday night. But he also caught eight passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers beat the Warriors 39-7.
“Taylor is the standout on offense,” Roth said of teammate Taylor Hanes, who entered Friday's game with 95 receptions for 1,573 yards and a single-season state record 28 TDs.
“I try to be a standout on the other side of the ball, so defense is where I try to do it.”
McComb improved to 12-0 and heads into a regional final nest Friday against No.1-ranked Delphos St. John (12-0), which beat Ada 42-14. The game will likely be played in Findlay, but a final decision won't be announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association until Sunday.
“I think this is what our kids have wanted since day,” McComb coach Kris Alge said. “We get a chance at the No. 1 team in the state. This is what you play for.”
Roth caught touchdown passes covering 33 and 65 yards fromMcComb quarterback Andrew Dee to give McComb a 20-0 halftime lead. Utitlizing strong defense and good use of its time outs, McComb got its hands on the ball with 1:08 left in the second quarter. On a third-and-4 play, Dee fired a perfect strike to Roth, who had a step on his defender and took it 65 yards to the end zone.
Dee, who completed 23 of 33 passes for 353 yards and four scores, hit Matt Newcomer with a 36-yard pass and Roth for 25 yards on a first-quarter drive capped by Cody Wilson's six-yard run.
Roth's two second-quarter TDs put McComb up 20-0 at the half.
“Our defense was great,” Dee said. “They only give up 7 points a game, so we only have to score 14. That makes it easy for me.”
Mohawk scored a gift TD after McComb fumbled a point on its own 8-yard line. But the Panthers roared back with Dee finding Roth for a one-yard TD, Jerry Brown scoring on a six-yard burst, and Hanes finally taking an inside screen and turning it into a catch-and-run 54-yard score, hit 29th TD of the season.
“[Mohawk] was playing three deep safeties and we were able to find the holes,” Roth said. The line played great. And when Andrew [Dee] has time like that, I can get open on post routes.”
“McComb does a tremendous job of pushing the ball up the field,” said Mohawk coach Erik Baker. “Most of the spread teams we see dink and dunk every once in a while, but these guys just flat out blow past you.
“We have three kids on our team who went to state in track but we couldn't hang with them.”