WILLIAMSBURG — A strong first half offensively and two defensive touchdowns in the second half powered Anna in a Division VI, Region 24 quarterfinal on Friday.
The No. 8 seed Rockets beat No. 1 Williamsburg 52-28 at Ken Osborne Field to advance to a regional semifinal.
Anna (7-5) will face No. 5 Tri-Village (11-1) this coming Friday at Lima Spartan Stadium. The Patriots beat No. 4 West Liberty-Salem 50-29 to advance.
The Rockets led 34-14 at halftime. While they struggled to move the ball for much of the second half, an interception return for a TD by Zach Osborn and a short return for a TD by Noah Aufderhaar after a recovery of a fumbled kickoff return solidified the victory.
“The kids played hard,” Anna coach Nick Marino said. “We made some mistakes. They switched the front up (in the second half), and we messed up some blocks we shouldn’t have. But we’ll get back to work on that. Those guys played hard, they’re a good team.
“We knew it would be hard to keep them off the scoreboard, with how they run around and scramble. That quarterback is such a good athlete. I thought the defense had to step up, and they made those plays in very key situations. That’s what it takes to win a game like that.”
Osborn had a big game at Osborne Field. Aside from the interception return for a TD, he ran for three TDs in the first half and ran in on a two-point conversion try. He finished with 257 rushing yards on 34 carries.
“We ran the ball really, really well in the first half and not so well in the second half,” Marino said. “Zach had a great game. He ran hard, ran through some tackles, even in the second half, when we needed some plays. He’s playing really good football right now, and we need him to continue to do that.”
“… Our offensive performance in the first half was great for us. We’ve got to make sure we don’t shut it off in the second half next week.”
After a series of punts to start the third quarter, Williamsburg senior quarterback JJ Miller threw a 70-yard TD pass to Pierce Ayers. The Wildcats made a two-point conversion try to pull within 36-22.
Anna turned it over on downs deep in Williamsburg territory to start the fourth quarter. The Wildcats drove some, but Osborn intercepted a pass over the middle from Miller, ran right toward the home sideline and raced 55 yards for a TD with 8:01 left to extend the lead to 43-22.
The Wildcats drove and scored on a 10-yard TD pass from Miller to Alex Ervin to pull within 43-28 after an unsuccessful two-point try.
Anna stalled in the red zone again, but Kolton Hengstler made a 21-yard field goal with 3:20 left to push the lead to 46-28.
Williamsburg fumbled the kickoff, and Aufderhaar recovered it and ran it in from 6 yards out for a TD with 3:15 left for the game’s final points (an extra-point try was missed).
Anna forced Williamsburg to punt on the game’s first possession, then drove about 90 yards and scored on a 13-yard TD pass from Shappie to Trey Heitkamp with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Osborn ran in on a two-point conversion try to give the Rockets an 8-0 lead.
“That was huge. If you get the lead and can get control of the game, it’s a lot easier to win a football game,” Marino said. “When you’re chasing points back and forth, it’s a hard thing to do. That first stop was very key for us.”
The Wildcats quickly drove and scored when Miller scored on a 6-yard TD run with 3:47 left. He threw a two-point conversion pass to tie it 8-8.
But Anna took control in the second quarter.
Osborn broke free on a fourth-and-2 and scored on a 20-yard TD run on the first play of the quarter to give Anna a 15-8 lead. After Williamsburg turned it over on downs at midfield, Anna drove and scored. Shortly after converting a fourth-and-long, Osborn scored on an 11-yard TD run to give the Rockets a 22-8 lead with 4:58 left.
Aufderhaar intercepted a pass soon after, and Shappie ran in from 6 yards out with 2:01 left to push the lead to 21 points.
Williamsburg quickly drove and scored on a 22-yard TD pass from Miller to Ayers, which cut the gap to 29-14 after Anna blocked the extra point.
But the Rockets drove and scored on the last play before halftime when Osborn ran in from 6 yards out to push the lead to 36-14 at halftime.
Anna finished with 390 yards of offense. Shappie completed 9-of-20 passes for 78 yards with one TD. Heitkamp caught three passes for 41 yards, including the first quarter TD reception.
Williamsburg (10-2) finished with 390 yards of offense. Miller threw for 304 yards with three TDs and two interceptions and ran for 70 yards and one TD. Ayers finished with 193 receiving yards.
St. Henry 16, Fort Loramie 8
Fort Loramie couldn’t get going in a defensive showdown on Friday and lost a Division VII, Region 28 quarterfinal at Redskin Stadium.
St. Henry built a 10-0 lead by halftime and scored the first TD of the third quarter. Gabe Hart threw a 26-yard TD pass to Max Maurer late in the second to cut the gap to eight points after a two-point conversion, but St. Henry secured the victory by finishing with a possession that lasted through about the final 11 minutes of the contest.
Fort Loramie finishes 6-6 overall.
Statistics will be added to this article when reported.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.