NEW PHILADELPHIA - Playing inside of Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium, Shadyside put forth a performance that the legendary Ohio State coach certainly would have been proud of as he watched from high above Saturday night.
One of Hayes' most famous quotes is, 'there are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them ain't good.'
It was quite evident the Tigers have heard that quote numerous times because they went with their bread-and-butter ground game en route to impressive results.
Photo by Paul Krajnyak
Shadyside quarterback Austin Dorris looks for daylight during the Tigers’ regional semifinal victory Saturday night against Caldwell.
The Tigers racked up 339 yards on the ground and fought off a youthful Caldwell squad for a 30-6 victory and trip to next Saturday's Division VII, Region 25 championship game against Glouster Trimble, which defeated Steubenville Catholicl in Zanesville, 27-22.
"We have to polish things up and I think this game is going to help us," Holenka said. "We won't be able to go through the motions and we must be focused this week because we've got a big challenge ahead of us."
While excited to advance and live to play another day, Holenka was far from pleased with the all-around performance.
"It was sloppy," Holenka said. "We hadn't had a day or night like (this) in terms of the sloppy play. Luckily, maybe the Man upstairs gave us a night to let us know it can happen if you're not totally focused all the time. We need a better week of practice."
The Tigers exerted their will against the Redskins at the point of attack like they've done all season. Shadyside ran 66 plays and 61 of those were running calls.
It was evident the Tigers three-pronged running attack of Austin Dorris, Eric Howell and Chris Littell along with the mammoth and talented offensive line was simply going to be too much for the Redskins early in the second quarter.
Already with a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Eric Howell, the Tigers took over after a Caldwell punt on its own 6 with 10 minutes to go in the half.
"We should have probably been up a score already, but we had a penalty and it set us back. But we finally capitalized and kind of set the tone," Holenka said. "The penalties just snubbed the first drive and those are things that we've not done this year and they're things we have to be able to work through."
Shadyside had no sloppiness issues on its second scoring drive.
Fourteen plays and 94 yards later, Shadyside had struck up the band once again. Dorris capped the march on a 21-yard run. After a penalty on Caldwell, Holenka elected to go for two and Dorris waltzed into the end zone.
The Tigers (12-0) stretched it to a 22-0 lead after Howell plunged in from 2 yards out. That drive was set up after Scott Hammond pounced on a Caldwell fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Caldwell showed signs of life in the latter stages of the third quarter. It blocked a punt and returned it to the 8. Tanner Clark scored two plays later to break up the shutout.
The Tigers defense set up another scoring opportunity for Howell, who finished with 153 yards on 33 carries. His third touchdown run was from 7 yards out.
Littell, who had 85 yards on 10 carries, picked off a Clark pass to set up that Shadyside march.
The Tigers defense got into the act again and recorded a safety when Clark was flagged for grounding as Zach Meadows was yanking him down in the end zone.
The Shadyside defense allowed Caldwell just one first down until there was inside of a few minutes to play. All told, the Redskins finished with 109 yards of offense, including 41 on the ground. Sophomore Bricker Lori never got untracked, rushing for just 33 yards on 12 carries.
"I thought defensively we played a super game," Holenka said. "I have to give our guys on the defensive line kudos for that. Other than the punt block, we probably could have had a goose egg."
Dorris finished with 118 yards on 18 carries. He landed just 2 of 5 passes for 6 yards.