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Published: Saturday, 11/24/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Irish rally into final

Edwards’ 2 TDs sink Aurora late in fourth quarter

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Central Catholic player Keith Towbridge celebrates after the Irish defeat Aurora High School 20-13 during their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School. Central Catholic player Keith Towbridge celebrates after the Irish defeat Aurora High School 20-13 during their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School.
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HURON — Seven years af­ter they cap­tured the Divi­sion II state ti­tle, the Cen­tral Cath­o­lic foot­ball team has the chance to re­live that glory.

The No. 4 Ir­ish ral­lied be­hind two fourth-quar­ter touch­downs Fri­day to dis­patch Aurora 20-13 at Huron’s Me­mo­rial Sta­dium to ad­vance to the 15th week of the sea­son for the sec­ond time in school his­tory.

Cen­tral Cath­o­lic, the state’s top-ranked team for most of the year, will face de­fend­ing state cham­pion Trot­wood-Madi­son, who de­feated New Al­bany, at 7 p.m. Fri­day at Massil­lon Paul Brown Tiger Sta­dium.

The Ir­ish, who av­er­aged 45 points in their first three play­off games, were search­ing for an­swers all night be­fore Divi­sion I pros­pects DeShone Kizer and Keith Tow­bridge con­nected on a 43-yard strike to the 5-yard line that led to the game-win­ning touch­down. Two plays later, with 7 min­utes, 54 sec­onds to go in the game, Amir Edwards plunged across the goal line from two yards out for the first of his two scores.

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Be­fore Tow­bridge beat cor­ner­back Kirk Janoch on a dou­ble-move, Cen­tral’s po­tent of­fense had been re­duced to short pick­ups, neg­a­tive plays, and turn­overs.

"It’s heart," said Tow­bridge, who caught four passes for 70 yards. "You just have to have men­tal tough­ness out there."

Tow­bridge, a Lou­is­ville re­cruit, also came up large on de­fense, sack­ing Aurora’s ex­cel­lent George Bol­las on fourth-and-18 at Cen­tral’s 29 to end the game.

Aurora High School quarterback George Bollas, 11, eludes Central Catholic player Ian Butler, 34. Aurora High School quarterback George Bollas, 11, eludes Central Catholic player Ian Butler, 34.
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Cen­tral, which out­scored its first three play­off op­po­nents 137-28, found it­self dead­locked with the fifth-ranked Green­men at half­time 7-7.

Aurora struck first, when Bol­las beat Cen­tral’s edge blitz and found Zach Smierciak on an 11-yard screen pass, put­ting the Ir­ish in a hole for the first time this post­sea­son. Bol­las set up the score when he squirted through a seam along the edge for 54 yards to Cen­tral’s 10, push­ing the 6-foot-4 ju­nior over 1,000 yards on the year.

Cen­tral re­sponded on the en­su­ing drive, a 12-play, 67-yard se­ries that Paul Mozes capped with a two-yard run. The rest of the half and most of the third quar­ter pro­duced lit­tle of­fen­sive spark. Kizer was just 2-for-5 pass­ing, and Edwards strug­gled to get loose in the open field. He had 63 yards at the break and fin­ished with 99.

"They had a great de­fense," said Edwards, who en­tered the game with 1,501 yards rush­ing. "Their line­back­ers were mov­ing around real good. We just had to get a good push."

Aurora squan­dered a scor­ing op­por­tu­nity with less than a minute left in the sec­ond quar­ter, af­ter Zach Quinn coughed up the ball at Cen­tral’s 17. Two plays ear­lier it looked like the Green­men (12-2) would get a cheap score af­ter Edwards put the ball on the turf.

"The de­fense saved us many times to­night," Cen­tral coach Greg Demp­sey said. "They an­swered on a short field. They an­swered af­ter we punted into the wind. At times, things are click­ing and you’re scor­ing 50 [points]. At times you’re not. The other team’s pretty dang good."

Quinn, a Univer­sity of Toledo line­backer com­mit who en­tered the night with more than 1,000 rush­ing yards, is bat­tling an an­kle in­jury, and it showed. The head of a three-headed mon­ster in the back­field, he car­ried just nine times for 35 yards and fin­ished the game on the side­line.

Trail­ing 14-13, Aurora ad­vanced to its own 37, where on fourth-and-3 one of its line­men jumped. The of­fense stayed on the field and could not con­vert as Cen­tral’s Der­ich Wei­land blan­keted Jake Czer­win­ski on a side­line route. Two plays later, Edwards was in the end zone cel­e­brat­ing a 20-yard TD af­ter he car­ried three or four de­fend­ers in with him.

"He looked at me in the hud­dle be­fore the play," Demp­sey said. "He said, ’Give me the ball and I’ll score.’ He wasn’t ly­ing. He ran like a bronco there."

Aurora, mak­ing its sec­ond straight state semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance, blocked the ex­tra point, keep­ing the score 20-13. Bol­las drove the Green­men to Cen­tral ter­ri­tory and left the fans sit­ting on the home side gasp­ing for breath af­ter his pass in the end zone on third down was nearly snared by run­ning back Jake McVay. After Tow­bridge wres­tled Bol­las to the ground mo­ments later, the Ir­ish side­line erupted.

All that stands be­tween Cen­tral Cath­o­lic and its dream sea­son is Trot­wood-Madi­son, which has won 10 in a row. Demp­sey said he will re­vert to the tem­plate he used in 2005 for di­rec­tion on how to pre­pare his team.

"I think you look back at the sched­ule and the hype they’re go­ing to deal with and try to pro­tect them as much as pos­si­ble," Demp­sey said. "You look back at things you thought you did real well and things you didn’t and wish you could do over."

Con­tact Ryan Au­tullo at:

rau­tullo@the­blade.com,

419-724-6160 or on

Twit­ter @Au­tul­loBlade.

SPT CENTRAL24p  Toledo Central Catholic player Jon Perrin Jr., 50, celebrates after sacking Aurora High School quarterback George Bollas, 11, for a loss late in the fourth quarter during their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School, Friday, November 23, 2012.  The Blade/Andy Morrison SPT CENTRAL24p Toledo Central Catholic player Jon Perrin Jr., 50, celebrates after sacking Aurora High School quarterback George Bollas, 11, for a loss late in the fourth quarter during their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School, Friday, November 23, 2012. The Blade/Andy Morrison
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SPT CENTRAL24p  Toledo Central Catholic player Derich Weiland, 24, tries to get past Aurora High School player Zach Smierciak, 14, during the first quarter of their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School, Friday, November 23, 2012.  The Blade/Andy Morrison SPT CENTRAL24p Toledo Central Catholic player Derich Weiland, 24, tries to get past Aurora High School player Zach Smierciak, 14, during the first quarter of their Division II state semi-final game at Huron High School, Friday, November 23, 2012. The Blade/Andy Morrison
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