The undefeated Panthers overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to Delphos St. John's and scored a 28-21 victory in a Division VI regional final Friday night at Donnell Stadium.
McComb, which trailed 21-7 early in the fourth quarter, scored 21 unanswered points during the final 10 minutes to earn a place in the state semifinals. The Panthers will face Marion Local, which defeated St. Henry 28-21 in a regional final.
"We were down and we came back," said McComb running back Jerry Brown, who rushed for 63 yards on 22 carries and scored the Panthers' final two touchdowns on runs of four and two yards, respectively. "Everybody didn't stop playing, and we all kept our heads high. We were ready to play and never stopped.
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"Delphos is a heck of a team. We couldn't take any breaks or any plays off."
Nevertheless, the Panthers (13-0) were faced with an unfamiliar situation. The Blanchard Valley Conference champions who averaged nearly 50 points a game during the regular season were held to a single touchdown through three quarters by St. John's (8-5).
Yet the Panthers didn't fold against a team they hadn't beaten in two previous tries.
McComb coach Kris Alge credits the Panthers' defensive effort, limiting the Blue Jays to only 10 first downs and coming up with an interception by Brown and a fumble recovery by Dalton Auchmuty in the fourth quarter to spark the come-from-behind victory.
"They believed in themselves," Alge said. "They just kept fighting and I'm so proud of them. I'm so proud of our defense."
Cody Wilson rushed for 23 yards on six carries, including a one-yard touchdown run with just under nine minutes remaining to make it 21-14. Wilson also caught seven passes for 91 yards, including a 25-yarder for a touchdown from Dalton Buck in the second quarter.
"We all came together as a team," Wilson said. "We stook together and we came together as a family and God helped us through and it was a great experience."
The Blue Jays, regional finals winners four of the past five years, struck first. St. John's put together a seven-play, 51-yard scoring drive that ended with Blue Jays quarterback Mark Boggs finding Andrew Metzger on a post route for a 21-yard touchdown with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Blue Jays defense set up their second scoring drive when they stuffed Brown on a fourth-and-2 carry at the McComb 42. They needed only five plays to make it 14-0. Boggs, who completed 9 of 16 passes for 228 yards, connected with Metzger on a skinny post for 31 yards to the Panther 11. The drive ended when running back Tyler Jettinghoff scored on a one-yard TD carry up the middle with 3:58 left until halftime.
The Panthers, who had been stopped on fourth down on two occasions, needed some momentum. Wilson provided it when he returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Blue Jays' 37-yard line. McComb needed only two plays to make it a 14-7 after Buck connected with Wilson on a 25-yard TD pass with 3:20 left in the first half.
Buck completed 15 of 19 passes for 116 yards.
The Blue Jays made it 21-7 with five-play, 96-yard drive that ended with Boggs finding Luke MacLennan for a 59-yard TD pass with 10:55 to play. Then the McComb rally began.
Contact Donald Emmons at:
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