WAPAKONETA — Anna rallied to take a lead over Allen East in the third quarter of a Division VI, Region 24 semifinal on Saturday at Wapakoneta Mercy Health Ford Field, but three turnovers were too much to overcome.
Allen East scored three consecutive touchdowns to overcome a one-point deficit and pull away to a 45-30 victory. The Rockets finish the season 6-7 overall.
“The kids fought pretty hard,” Anna coach Nick Marino said. “We didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t tackle well enough. But the kids fought, so that’s the big thing. I’m proud of the seniors and thought they stepped up, especially these last couple of weeks.”
The Rockets were stopped inside the 5-yard line twice in the third quarter, but Carter Seigle threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Axe with 20 seconds left, and Zach Ambos kicked the extra point to give the Rockets a 24-23 lead.
But the Mustangs scored on a 15-yard TD run by Jacob Hershberger to take a 31-24 lead. Hershberger intercepted a pass in the red zone to end Anna’s next possession.
Later in the quarter, Allen East’s Carson Clum intercepted a Seigle pass on the next drive and returned it 67 yards to push the lead to 38-24. Allen East’s Jack Hoel scored on a 2-yard run later in the quarter to increase the lead to 45-24.
Hershberger intercepted a pass late in the quarter to seal the win. The Rockets forced a three-and-out, and Hunter Schmidt scored on a 1-yard TD with 58 seconds left to close the gap to 15 points. Allen East recovered an onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
“We had to make some good tackles there late and couldn’t, had those unfortunate turnovers, and it was too much,” Marino said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way. We didn’t do enough to make it bounce in our way. We didn’t execute well enough; that’s what it always is in a loss.”
The Mustangs had 385 yards of offense with one turnover while Anna had 231 yards of offense and three turnovers.
Seigle completed 14-of-23 passes for 143 yards with three interceptions. Schmidt ran for 79 yards and one TD on 20 carries. Ambos caught five passes for 50 yards and Axe caught four passes for 32 yards with one TD.
The Rockets will lose nine seniors to graduation, including Ambos and Schmidt.
Hershberger ran for 185 yards and four TDs on 20 carries and completed 7-of-15 passes for 156 yards. Hoel ran for 97 yards on 17 carries.
Allen East (10-3) advances to face Coldwater in a regional final on Saturday at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Hershberger scored on a 16-yard TD run to give Allen East a 7-0 lead with 9:03 left in the firsts quarter. He scored on a 34-yard run to give the Mustangs a 14-0 lead with 1:25 left.
Seigle capped off a long drive with a 1-yard TD run early in the second to cut the gap to 14-7, but Allen East scored on a 33-yard field goal with 4:45 left to take a 17-7 lead.
Justin Richards returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to cut the gap to 17-14. Allen East quickly responded, as Hershberger scored on a 2-yard run to boost the lead to 23-14 after a missed extra point.
Anna drove in the final minute of the first half, and Ambos kicked a 28-yard field goal in the final seconds to cut it to 23-17 at halftime.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.