SHARONVILLE — For a moment, it appeared as if we would have yet another tight affair between the Fairfield Indians and the Colerain Cardinals, a rematch of an overtime game two week ago. However, the third quarter belonged to the Cardinals, who displayed why they make deep playoff runs each season. Colerain would score fourteen points and use their defense to take command of the Indians in a 28-7 victory at Princeton High School in the regional semifinals last night.
“Our kids deserve it,” said Colerain head coach Shawn Cutright. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. They laid it on the line tonight.”
The night started off well for Colerain, who took the lead after just two plays from scrimmage. Jaylen Thomas dashed 45 yards to the endzone to enable the Cardinals a 7-0 in just thirty seconds.
“We took advantage,” said Cutright on the quick strike. “We had a game plan to go away from our motion with a few runs and we hit a big one.”
Despite the quick strike, Fairfield’s defense settled in and made several important stops to keep the score the same through the end of the first quarter.
The Indians would even the score just inside the second quarter. On a key third down play, Sawiaha Ellis tossed up a jump ball to Dasha Simpkins who hauled it down through a Colerain defensive backs hands. The big 27-yard touchdown pass tied the game at seven.
Colerain remained calm and were not deterred after the Indians big play. A ten play drive finished with Johnson going deep to Isiah Myers would easily scored on the 28-yard pass to give Colerain the lead back at 14-7.
As Fairfield drove down the field looking to tie the game again, the Indians fumbled to which Colerain recovered to end the half. The Cardinals kept their 14-7 lead heading into the break.
The third quarter saw the tide change in favor of Colerain. It remained back and forth throughout the quarter with each team trading turnovers. But the difference came with a minute left in the stanza.
Freddie Johnson capped off a six play drive with a 14-yard quarterback keeper to push the lead to 21-7 for Colerain. Needing an answer, Fairfield attempted to move quick, but before the quarter ended, disaster struck for the Indians.
Brandon Sinclair intercepted Ellis and cashed it in for a pick six, now giving Colerain the 28-7 lead in a blink of an eye. Sinclair’s 27-yard interception return ultimately sealed Fairfield’s fate.
“We were up at half and we figured we’d come out and get a score and maybe get a turnover and head that way,” said Cutright. “We were fortunate enough to get that pick six.”
The fourth quarter saw Fairfield’s defense tighten up on Colerain, but the Indians offense couldn’t find a way to put it together. Miscues and mistakes haunted the Indians who twice had the ball in the red zone, but could not find a score. The game would finish at 28-7 and in a Colerain victory.
The loss for Fairfield closes out an impressive season for the Indians, but one that does leave much desired. Only Colerain managed to beat Fairfield all season, but unfortunately for the Indians it meant no Greater Miami Conference title nor continuing in the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
For Colerain, the win was much more comfortable than their 16-10 overtime win at Fairfield two weeks ago. The Cardinals are once again back in the regional semifinals and will once again face a school from the GCL South to decide a state semifinal berth. This time it will be the Elder Panthers, who defeated St. Xavier 28-24 last night. The location will be determined later this week, but the time will likely be 7 pm next Friday night.
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