SIDNEY – Attention Marion Local: Unbeaten Mechanicsburg is for real.
The second-seeded Indians blasted Delphos Jefferson, 42-12, here Saturday night to set up a highly-anticipated meeting with top-seeded Marion Local (11-1) this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bellefontaine in the Division VI, Region 22 final.
Jefferson’s opening kickoff on Saturday went out of bounds, and the Indians started at their own 35.
With runs by quarterback Kaleb Romero and halfback Phil Cook leading the way, the Indians moved 65 yards in 11 plays, the drive culminating on Cook’s 11-yard TD scamper.
A successful PAT kick gave Mechanicsburg a 7-0 lead with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter.
Utilizing a quick Wing T offense, Jefferson moved to midfield, but a false start penalty and sack ended the Wildcats’ drive with a punt.
On first down at his own 11, Romero connected with Cook on a pass play that ended up going the distance for an 89-yard touchdown.
Another successful PAT gave the Indians a 14-0 lead with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter.
The Indians (12-0) gave Jefferson a pair of first downs via penalty on its ensuing possession, and the first quarter ended with Mechanicsburg on top, 14-0.
Jefferson (10-2) advanced to the MHS 19, where Mechanicsburg’s Bobby Welch batted away a pass in the end zone on third down.
On fourth down and 15 from the 24, Jefferson quarterback Jace Stockwell was forced to throw the ball away.
“We’ll give up some yards here and there, but if you’re going to consistently move the ball or consistently put points on the board, you better be very consistent and very physical on offense,” MHS Coach Kurt Forrest said.
Romero took the next play up the middle 76 yards for a touchdown, and the Indians led 21-0 with 9:54 remaining in the second quarter.
“When you have a quarterback that runs the ball as well as ours does, it puts stress on the defense. And if you put stress in the right places, it’s going to crack and leave big-play opportunities out there,” Forrest said.
Following a Mechanicsburg punt later in the quarter, Jefferson fullback Hunter Binkley broke free for an 88-yard TD run.
David Harvey blocked the PAT attempt, and the Indians owned a 21-6 lead with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter.
Romero hooked up with Cook on another long pass moments later to give the Indians a first down at the Jefferson 34.
On third and four at the 28, Romero hit Cook with another pass at the Jefferson 8.
Cook scored two plays later on a five-yard run to make it 28-6 just 36 seconds before halftime.
Jefferson went three and out on its opening possession of the third quarter, and Romero later scored from 34 yards out to make the score 34-6.
The Indians went for two, Romero scored to make it 36-6 and the running clock was set in motion with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter.
It was the 12th straight game this season that the Indians forced a running clock in the second half.
The third quarter ended with Mechanicsburg on top, 36-6.
Jefferson’s Binkley scored on a 52-yard run early in the fourth quarter to make it 36-12, but the two-point conversion attempt failed.
After a failed on-side kick attempt by the Wildcats, Romero connected with Cook on a 48-yard TD pass to give the Indians a 42-12 lead.
Romero completed 9 of 11 pass attempts for 224 yards and rushed for 188 yards on 17 carries. He also had 8.5 tackles.
Cook had four receptions for 182 yards.
“The guys up front did a heck of a job in pass protection and they did a good job in the run game, as well,” Forrest said.
For Jefferson, Binkley rushed for 195 yards on 15 carries.