Xenia wins big on senior night


XENIA — The victory bell at Doug Adams Stadium never sounded better.

After four straight losses and myriad injuries, the Xenia Buccaneers were dominant on offense and defense in a 43-6 pasting of Greenville in the final regular-season home game on Friday.

After scoring just 13 points in their previous two games, the Bucs (5-4 overall, 4-4 Miami Valley League Valley Division) scored a season-high in points while also registering a season-high 426 total yards including 262 on the ground.

“It’s been tough,” Coach Maurice Harden said. “But I’m very proud of our kids. Their ability to preserver and push through this. You know we always talk about adversity builds character and we’ve got to continue to find ways to stay process-driven and not result-driven. So I’m super proud of my team, super proud of my kids for battling. Not many people can fight with this amount of injuries, the amount of kids we’ve got out but we’ve got some young players that are doing some really great things so I’m super proud of them.”

Xenia dominated the game in just about every way possible — more completions, more passing yards, more rushing yards, third-down efficiency, penalty yards, and time of possession.

The only statistic that had a Green Wave advantage was kickoff returns, which leaned heavily toward the visitors.

Full disclosure: Xenia kicked off seven times while Greenville did it just twice.

Full disclosure part II: Greenville’s Evan Manix returned the opening kick 98 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead after the extra point failed.

But after that, it was all Xenia, all the time.

The Bucs scored on their first three possessions and four of their five first-half possessions.

Senior Juan Underwood scored first on a four-yard pass from junior Gavin McManus. Then McManus scored on a one-yard plunge, five plays after a 44-yard run by senior Elijah Johnson.

Following a three-and-out by Greenville (0-9, 0-8 MVL Miami Division), senior Jace Jones scored on a two-yard run to cap an eight-yard drive that began with a 14-yard screen from McManus to senior Alijah Withers. That drive also featured 10 and 21-yard runs from Jones.

Xenia made it 28-6 on a 13-yard slant from McManus to senior Aiden Solis with 15 seconds left in the half. Solis had another big catch on the drive, fighting for 24 yards on a second-down play. At the end he fumbled but it was recovered by sophomore Lucas Williams.

“I think we’ve shown that when we execute consistently we can be pretty dangerous on offense,” Harden said. “Great job by (McManus) of making consistent reads, our offensive line did a really good job of picking up the stunts and picking up the blitzes and then our running backs ran hard and kept things down hill and receivers made plays on the perimeter.”

Jones scored on a seven-yard run in the third quarter and a two-point pass to Underwood gave Xenia a 36-6 lead, triggering a running clock due to the 30-point lead.

Withers closed the scoring on a 53-yard pass from McManus in the fourth quarter.

McManus finished completing 12 of 25 passes for 164 yards and three TDs. Johnson carried 13 times for 128 yards, and Jones 13 times for 105 yards and two scores to lead Xenia. Underwood had five catches for 46 yards, Solis four for 47, and Withers three for 71.

Senior kicker Mason Rubio made all five of his extra points.

Greenville, meanwhile, managed just 116 total yards against the aggressive Xenia defense, which had four sacks and five tackles for loss. Sophomore Torian Hill led the Bucks with nine total tackles (six solo), while juniors Jaden Caudill and Ronnie Butler each had eight total tackles.

Seventeen Bucs had at least one tackle.

“I thought our defense played extremely well,” Harden said. “I think they wanted to respond after the last four weeks. We pride ourselves on being physical and being able to stop the run and then being able to run the ball. So the fact that we were able to come out and stuff them with the run game, limit their passing attack was very good to see and will help us moving forward in the playoffs.”

Ah yes, the playoffs.

The Bucs — who close the regular season at Tippecanoe Friday — have clinched a playoff spot and could get a home game with a win, according to computer rankings guru Joe Eitel. A loss, Eitel predicts, would likely mean a seed in the 9-14 range.

According to Eitel, 12 teams have already clinched a playoff spot in Division II, Region 8 and Stebbins, Cincinnati Turpin, and Hamilton Ross are in with wins. The top 16 make the playoffs.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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