“We knew all along the buzzsaw that we were getting into,” said Braves coach Rick Meeks. “We knew we had to play our best game and hope some breaks went our way. We started out well defensively shutting down their running game. We had several opportunities offensively. We just didn’t make enough plays and had too many mistakes, but our kids played hard. I’m proud of them.”
Shawnee nearly struck first in the second quarter, driving the ball to Roger Bacon’s 27-yard, but the Braves' drive stalled on fourth down.
“They beat us up a little bit up front,” Meeks said. “We knew we would struggle a little bit up front. They kind of wore us down.”
The final eight minutes of the first half belonged to the Spartans. Kiner’s 50-yard run set up a 3-yard TD run on the next play, giving Roger Bacon a 7-0 lead.
“(Shawnee) is a tough, physical team,” said Spartans coach Mike Blaut. “They pushed us around, especially in the first half. We talked all week about how they were going to punch us in the mouth and they did. We responded and that’s what I was most happy about.”
With 1:43 remaining, Kiner scored again on a three-yard run to make it 14-0. On the ensuing drive, Shawnee quarterback Drew Mitch was intercepted by Roger Bacon’s Eric Johnson. One play later, Roger Bacon quarterback Logan Huber hit Danny Hudepohl on a 65-yard TD pass to give the Spartans a 21-0 lead at the half.
Roger Bacon capitalized on two third quarter fumbles by Shawnee, scoring on a 17-yard pass from Huber to Kyle Guyer and a 30-yard field goal by Dylan Rolfert to trigger the running clock.
The Braves recovered a fumble deep in Roger Bacon territory in the fourth quarter and scored on a 3-yard run by Max Guyer, but they couldn’t get any closer.
Shawnee will graduate nine seniors who advanced to the playoffs each of the last three seasons. The Braves lost in the Region 20 semifinals a year ago to eventual state semifinalist West Jefferson.
“We’ve got a really young team,” Meeks said. “The future looks good. The kids need to feel the pain here and hopefully it motivates them in the offseason.”