AVON, Ohio — Perrysburg had seized momentum, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown to make it a one-score game and put a scare into the defending state runner-up.
Those good vibes lasted for all of 24 seconds.
When Avon standout Ross Douglas exploded for a 70-yard touchdown run late in Friday's playoff matchup, he effectively squashed Perrysburg's hopes of extending its season for the first time in school history.
Douglas, a University of Michigan recruit, was as advertised in No. 8 Avon's 28-11 triumph in a Division II regional quarterfinal. He shook off an uneven start to post 245 rushing yards and three touchdowns while buoying a secondary that suffocated Perrysburg's pass attack.
Making its second playoff appearance, Perrysburg (8-3) battled admirably but couldn't get a defensive stop at a desperate time, instead allowing Douglas to squirt through two small creases en route to that deflating TD that widened the Eagles' lead to 21-11 with 3 minutes, 56 seconds to go.
“Shook a defensive back that was right in the hole,” Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said. “He's a great football player and he made a great play.”
The Yellow Jackets had issues on third down, and gained just 210 yards on offense. A dropped touchdown pass by Austin Bishop in the first quarter foretold a difficult night in the passing game.
Bishop had slipped by Douglas on a go route, and Steve Slocum hit him in stride down the sideline for what would have been a 58-yard connection. Bishop couldn't come up with the ball, wasting one of few precious opportunities presented to the visiting team. On three other occasions a Perrysburg receiver dropped a third down pass.
“That's the game,” Kregel said. “That's what cost us. You have to execute those things and we didn't.”
Trailing 3-0 at halftime, Avon took control with touchdowns on its first two drives of the second half. Douglas accelerated for 38 yards after the break to set up an 8-yard TD pass from David Zeh to Mark Kvach.
A Kvach run of 26 yards on the next drive preceded Douglas muscling his way to a 6-yard TD, which widened the gap to 14-3.
“They found something in those first two drives and we had guys out of position,” Kregel said. “When the kid's going to the University of Michigan, he's going to hurt you. That's basically what happened to us.”
Avon, which racked up 521 yards, was often self destructive. A holding call nullified a 20-yard Douglas TD run on the third drive of the half, and two subsequent penalties dashed a promising drive.
The Eagles' most promising possession in the first half unraveled after they reached the 6. A false start cost them five yards, and Zeh lost eight more on a fumble. Instead of putting the initial points on the board, Eric Sumislawski missed his first field goal, of 36 yards, in five tries.
Perrysburg parlayed a Douglas fumble in the second quarter into three points. The Yellow Jackets ran 11 plays for 24 yards, elapsing 4:35, before Slocum buried a 23-yard field goal.
Slocum was 12 of 30 for 116 yards. He was intercepted twice, on a deep ball before halftime and with 3:17 left in the game by Zack Torbert, who jumped and brought the ball in with one hand. Slocum was looking for Bishop across the middle.
“I was just trying to get the ball in his hands, and [Torbert] picked off the pass,” Slocum said.
Slocum authored his team's only touchdown drive to cut the deficit to three with 4:20 to go. He found Austin Lee for 13 yards on fourth down before rifling a deep ball to Bishop resulting in a 28-yard gain to the 1. Two plays later Slocum plunged over the goal line. The quarterback kept the ball on the conversion try, finding open space along the edge to make the score 14-11.
“We weren't going to give up,” he said. “We were going to come out until the very end.”
At that point, Perrysburg was one defensive stop away from the offense taking over with a chance to win the game. Douglas didn't let that happen.
“It was just great blocking by the o-line and great blocking downfield by my wide receivers,” said Douglas, who added a 1-yard TD with eight seconds to go.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.