The West Liberty-Salem High School football team is headed to the regional finals for the first time since 2016 — where they’ll face a familiar foe.
Cincinnati Taft’s 36-yard game-winning field goal attempt sailed wide as the Tigers held on to beat the Senators 14-13 in a Division V, Region 20 semifinal on Saturday night at Miamisburg’s Holland Field.
Tigers senior Holden Nease rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the victory.
West Liberty-Salem quarterback Trevor Woodruff went 13-for-18 for 179 yards and a touchdown, a 29-yard strike to Nease in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
A few minutes later, West Liberty-Salem capitalized on a Taft fumble, scoring on a 15-yard run by Nease to take a 14-0 lead at the half.
The Senators’ Eyan Sims returned the second-half kickoff to the Tigers’ 13-yard line, setting up an 8-yard TD pass from Robert Brazziel to Gianni Rudolph to cut the lead to 14-7.
The Senators recovered a fumble on the Tigers 9-yard line and Brazziel scored on a 7-yard run with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter, but Taft wasn’t able to tie the score as the extra point failed.
Taft got the ball with about two minutes remaining and drove the ball to the Tigers 19, but were unable to take the lead.
The Tigers (11-1) advanced to play Ohio Heritage Conference North Division rival West Jefferson (11-1) in the Region 20 final at 7 p.m. Saturday at site to be determined. The Roughriders beat Shawnee 62-28 in the other Region 20 semifinal at London’s Bowlus Field.
West Liberty-Salem handed West Jefferson its lone loss of the season, beating the Roughriders 42-39 on a TD pass with 23 seconds remaining.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.