MECHANICSBURG – Unbeaten Mechanicsburg wore all-black uniforms on Saturday, which was fitting, as it was lights out for the visiting Williamsburg Wildcats from the opening kickoff. Mechanicsburg cruised to a 48-14 win in the opening round of the Division VI, Region 22 playoffs.
“When the lights are the brightest, it brings out the best in them,” M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest said of his team. “And that speaks to their competitive nature. They know when the stakes are raised.”
Quarterback Kaleb Romero was sensational as usual, turning in what has become, for him, a routine performance with 177 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on only six carries. He also threw for 109 yards on 3 of 6 passing with 2 touchdowns.
“Whenever the ball is in his hands, I’m an extremely confident coach,” Forrest said. “From his athletic ability to his mental approach to his desire to succeed, he’s a special kid.”
The Indians (11-0) got on the board with Romero early, scoring with a 53-yard run on the third play from scrimmage for the Indians. A mishandled snap on the extra point made it 6-0.
On the offense’s next touch, Phil Cook went 80 yards for a score, making it 13-0.
The score remained that way into the second quarter, when David Harvey caught a short pass from Romero and cut back across the field, sprinting 72 yards to the end zone. Romero went 48 yards a few minutes later and pushed the lead to 27-0.
That looked like it might, mercifully, be the worst of it for Williamsburg (8-3).
But Wade Smiddy turned in a highlight-reel interception with one hand on the Wildcats’ next drive.
A few plays later, Romero bounced off a tackle up the middle and dashed 31 yards to paydirt.
Smiddy hurt the visitors a drive later, scoring on a 10-yard reverse with less than a minute remaining in the first half to cap off a beautiful up-tempo series that Romero orchestrated with no timeouts.
Halftime gave a brief respite, before Mechanicsburg went back to work – this time with a running clock.
Gavin Erwin spelled Cook in the second half, pounding the ball up the middle time and again until he scored from 4 yards out to make it 48-0.
Williamsburg’s offense was able to move the ball against M’burg’s reserves, punching the ball in after a long drive to cut the deficit to 48-7.
Mechanicsburg was able to take a little time off the clock on its next possession, but a high snap went over Cook’s head as he was ready to punt and the Wildcats took over on the Indians’ 26-yard line.
The visitors cashed in the good field position with another touchdown that cut the lead to 48-14, but M’burg was able to run out the clock after recovering a fumbled punt return.
Mechanicsburg will play Delphos Jefferson (10-1) at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.