Kenton Ridge entered Friday night’s playoff game with the hope that the close first half it played against Tippecanoe two weeks ago was a good sign. Instead, the 28-point second half Tipp played two weeks ago was the real sign.
The unbeaten Red Devils took advantage of opportunities to build a three-touchdown lead at halftime and went on to eliminate the Cougars 42-7 in a Division III Region 10 quarterfinal at Tipp City Park.
The Red Devils (11-0) have made the playoffs every year since 2005 and won their first playoff game since 2009. They will face fifth-seeded Thurgood Marshall in the regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday at a neutral site to be determined.
“That’s got to be our best game of the season,” said Tipp senior running back Jacob Hall. “We scrimmaged them and did pretty well. They’ve gotten better, but so have we.”
The Cougars (7-4) trailed 7-0 at the half two weeks ago before losing 35-7. They came out aggressive but turned the ball over downs twice in the first half. The Red Devils answered with touchdowns both times. A 49-yard drive was capped by Sean Ford’s 22-yard touchdown run around the right end for a 7-0 lead with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
Tipp looked like it might have to settle for another 7-0 halftime lead until Alex Hall fielded a low punt and returned it 49 yards to the Cougars’ 15. Two plays later Cameron Johnson scored on a 15-yard screen pass from backup Zack Blair for a 14-0 lead with 6:52 left in the half.
KR again went for it fourth down after driving into Tipp territory. This time Tipp took over on its 36 and moved into scoring range on Hall’s 38-yard run. Two plays later Blair threw seven yards to Ford for a 21-0 lead.
The Red Devils doubled the lead four minutes into the second half on scoring plays of 50, 26 and 28 yards. Hall, who has committed to Brown, rushed for 123 yards to raise his season total to 1,745 but didn’t need to dominate as he has done so many times.
Kenton Ridge finishes the season with three straight losses after narrowly making the playoffs for just the second time and the first time since 2004.
“Staying healthy was instrumental and so was all the hard work in the offseason,” said Cougars coach Joel Marratta of his team’s season. “I’m proud of the kids. We did more with less.”