COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Cincinnati St. Xavier scored a touchdown in the second overtime and then held off Cleveland St. Ignatius to win the Ohio Division I state championship Friday night, 27-20.
St. Ignatius quarterback Patrick Ryan threw an incomplete to Travis Pot on fourth-and-goal from the 10 yard line, setting off a celebration by St. Xavier and their fans at midfield in frigid Ohio Stadium.
Bombers quarterback Sean Clifford — who’d been battered all evening by the St. Ignatius defense and had to leave the game on two occasions — hooked up with Andrew Wittrock for a 7-yard scoring pass to open the second overtime after the teams traded field goals in the first OT.
St. Xavier (10-5) had battled back from a 10-0 halftime deficit, scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter before St. Ignatius tied it at 17 with 1:11 left in regulation to force the overtime.
“I’m just a little surreal right now,” St. Xavier coach Steve Specht said. “When you finish a season 5-5 and everybody’s looking at you sideways, wondering how you’re sneaking into the playoffs, and now we’re sitting here as state champions at 10-5. It’s been an unbelievable year.”
The Bombers became the first team with five losses to win a state championship in any division.
The St. Ignatius defense forced punts on all seven of St. Xavier’s first half possessions, limiting the Bombers to 47 yards of total offense and three first downs. Clifford was just 1 for 11 for 16 yards in the half.
St. Ignatius broke an Ohio high school record with nine quarterback sacks for the game, eight on Clifford and one on his backup, Chase Wolf.
Clifford, a four-star Penn State recruit, finished 10 for 25 for 142 yards and two touchdowns for the Bombers. Wittrock caught both of his scoring passes.
“We had to make a good amount of adjustments at the halftime,” Clifford said.
The only touchdown in the first half came on St. Xavier’s first possession when St. Ignatius’ Michael Chime came charging through the line, blocked a Joshua Glaser punt and then jumped on it in the end zone. Matthew Trickett later added a 45-yard field goal for a 10-0 St. Ignatius lead at the half.
Mark Bobinski paced St. Ignatius with 140 yards on 34 carries but no touchdowns.
“Give credit to them,” St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle said. “They found a way to win it.”
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