WOODSFIELD - Monroe Central's futility in the postseason continued for the third consecutive season Friday night.
The Seminoles (9-2) turned the ball over the first four times they touched it in the second half in dropping a 34-12 decision to No. 7 Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas in the OHSAA Division V, Region 17 quarterfinals at a jam-packed Monroe Memorial Park in Woodsfield.
Trailing 7-6 at the half and having seized the momentum from the visiting Knights (7-4), No. 2 Monroe Central took the second-half kickoff and picked up a couple of first downs in driving to the St. Thomas Aquinas 33.
However, disaster struck on a third-and-11 situation as senior quarterback Tyler Kinchen was looking for junior wideout Jacob Black, but the Knights' Tyler Moeglin picked off the pass at the 17, and ole Uncle Mo suddenly was wearing white-and-gold.
Two plays later, Moeglin, also the Knights' quarterback, faked into the line and rambled around his right end for 58 yards to the Seminoles 24. Seven plays later, they found the end zone and it was all downhill from there as St. Thomas Aquinas scored 27 unanswered points en route to the rout.
''That is exactly what happened,'' veteran Monroe Central head coach Jay Circosta said inside a somber lockerr oom. ''Everything seemed to snowball after that interception.''
Bryan Wilkins ran for 66 of his game-high 116 yards and all three touchdowns in the second half as the Knights ran off 28 plays to 19 for the Seminoles.
''I thought our defense played really well in the first half,'' Circosta added. ''We had the ball down there in the red zone, but we didn't put it in and score. I felt that hurt us big time. We had a shot at a field goal, and after we scored just before the half we could've been ahead at the half.''
After the Knights made it 14-6 on Wilkins' 1-yard run with 3:56 on the third-quarter clock, the visitors were back in business two plays later when Moeglin swiped his seventh pass of the campaign.
A block in the back infraction, coupled with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against St. Thomas Aquinas, left the visitors deep in their own territory, but they marched 66 yards on 11 plays to increase the margin to 20-6 after Alex Benedetti's PAT clanked off the right upright.
To make matters worse, Kinchen fumbled while struggling for yardage on the Noles' first play from scrimmage. Joe Blevins recovered and the Knights quickly capitalized as Nick Mudd plunged in from 2 yards out to make it 27-6 with 8:01 remaining to play.
If it could get worse, it did, as the Seminoles fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Wilkins walked in from 18 yards out.
Monroe Central did manage a window-dressing six-pointer as Kinchen ran in from 3 yards out. The run for 2 was no good.
Kinchen finished his career with 82 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also completed 9 of 19 passes for an additional 138, which included a 35-yard touchdown heave to Curtis Nixon in the waning moments of the first half.
Other than that, the Seminoles offense was nearly non-existent. Kole Hogue, who also saw his stellar career come to an end, carried the ball six times for 31 yards, but most of those came against the St. Thomas Aquinas reserves.
''They are a nice football team,'' Circosta said of St. Thomas Aquinas. ''They've got a lot of weapons to use. I was really concerned about their quarterback going in, and initially he didn't really hurt us, but eventually he made a couple of big plays.''
The Knights racked up 357 yards of total offense as Moeglin added 102 yards on the ground to go with his 84 via the air.
''I thought we were playing a little tense to start,'' St. Thomas Aquinas coach Tim Budd said amidst a wild celebration. ''We just told the kids to loosen up and play their game.
''Our defense gave our offense some opportunities in the second half that we took advantage of.
''This is a very big win for us because it is the school's first playoff win since 1985.''
In closing, Circosta praised him team's play.
''After we lost that first game, I don't think there was anyone talking about a PVC championship or even the playoffs at that time, but these kids ran off nine in a row. I just can't ask for much more than that, especially for the four seniors who have started for four years.''