CINCINNATI — The Xenia Buccaneers put more than a scare in Winton Woods in a Division II Region 8 football playoff game Friday.
The Bucs had the top-seeded Warriors — a state semifinalist in 2017 and 2018 — Winton Worried. Down three touchdowns in the first half, the Bucs had several opportunities to tie it in the game’s final minutes but were unable to come up with one more big play as Winton Woods escaped, 28-13.
The Warriors didn’t score in the second half until there were 58 seconds left, opting to punch the ball in instead of running off the final minute with Xenia out of timeouts.
“So proud of our guys,” Coach Trace Smitherman said. “Our season didn’t start the way we wanted to. (But) seven or eight minutes left were down 21-13 to the number seven team in Ohio. They definitely played their butts off.”
Especially the defense.
After giving up a 37-yard pass on Winton Wood’s first play and a 22-yard TD run on the second, Xenia held the Warriors (7-0) scoreless until the 7:42 mark of the second when they drove 81 yards ad scored on a 19-yard pass. After Xenia punted on its next possession, the Warriors marched 80 and scored on a 16-yard run from Tyrek Spikes with 52.1 seconds left in the half.
That was all the Warriors could get.
And Xenia (2-6) didn’t quit. Starting from their own 20, the Bucs struck quickly as QB Tremell Wright ran for 59 yards and then found Tawfiq Jabbar on a perfect fade pass for a 19-yard score and a 21-7 halftime margin.
Neither team scored in the third quarter and then Wright made it 21-13 with 9:46 left on a 14-yard scramble after pass protection broke down. The extra point missed. Wright set up the score with a 22-yard scramble a couple plays earlier.
Xenia tried an onside kick and recovered with 9:41 left but went three and out. Xenia forced a three and out but was unable to mount a drive and had to punt again with under four minutes left. Winton Woods took over with 3:26 left and was able to run the clock down before scoring.
Wright finished with 107 yards on the ground and a score, and 46 yards passing and a score. Ramon Browder had 66 yards including a 32-yard scamper on Xenia’s first play. Defensively, Gavin Severt had one sack, while Dylan Hoelscher and an identified player wearing No. 69 but not listed on the roster had half a sack.
The unknown player also had nine tackles to lead the defense. Jabbar had seven, Ryon Foubert five and Wright, Jalin Adams, Zack Gathier, and Isaiah Goodrum four each.
The bulk of Xenia’s offensive skill players return next year and Smitherman likes where the program is heading.
“We’re talented and we’re young,” he said. “We’re really setting the foundation for what Xenia football should be about.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.