Springfield beats Findlay, advances to third straight regional final

Springfield High School junior defensive back Tawfig Jabbar and junior defensive back Tyron Barnes celebrated after Jabbar blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown during their game against Findlay on Friday night at AcuSport Stadium in Bellefontaine. The Wildcats won 13-0. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Springfield High School junior defensive back Tawfig Jabbar and junior defensive back Tyron Barnes celebrated after Jabbar blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown during their game against Findlay on Friday night at AcuSport Stadium in Bellefontaine. The Wildcats won 13-0. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

BELLEFONTAINE — The Springfield High School football team is back in the regional finals for the third straight season — and they did it with defense.

The second-seeded Wildcats beat Findlay 13-0 in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal game on a snowy Friday night at Bellefontaine’s AcuSport Stadium, earning their sixth shutout of the season.

ExplorePHOTOS: Springfield vs. Findlay

“Our guys stepped up when their number was called,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “They bent a little bit tonight more than they have, but they didn’t break and (Findlay) didn’t score. I’m so happy and excited for those guys and their performance tonight.”

Springfield senior quarterback Te’Sean Smoot rushed for 95 yards and a TD as the Wildcats improved to 11-1 .

The Wildcats offense stalled on its opening drive, but the Trojans fumbled the ensuing punt inside their own 10-yard line and junior linebacker Jaivian Norman recovered it for Springfield. A few plays later, Smoot scored on a 2-yard run to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.

The Wildcats drove into Trojans territory multiple times in the first half, but missed a field goal and turned the ball over on downs three times and were unable to put points on the board before halftime.

“We’ve got to finish off drives,” Douglass said. “We didn’t do well in the red zone. We’ve got to do a better job in the red zone of finishing off plays.”

In the third quarter, Springfield junior Tawfig Jabbar blocked a punt and caught it at the Trojans’ 5-yard line and scored to give the Wildcats a 13-0 lead they would never relinquish.

“On the previous punt plays, I was getting closer and closer and closer and I finally got there and I picked it up and scored,” Jabbar said. “It fell into my hands and I was right there.”

The Wildcats caused problems for Findlay’s offense the entire game, sacking Trojans quarterback Ryan Montgomery three times.

“(Springfield’s) team speed was tough,” said Findlay coach Stefan Adams. “It was always one guy. To their credit, they were there and made the plays. (Norman) is a pain in the butt, he’s a good ball player. We were just one block or one small play away. In a game of inches and a game like this tonight against a team like this, it’s very difficult if you don’t make those plays when you have a chance to.”

The Trojans drove deep into Springfield territory midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats came up with a key goal-line stand to end the threat. Findlay drove nearly the length of the field in the final minute, but Wildcats senior Delian Bradley intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the victory.

“I’m just thankful that we got the W and we’re moving on to next week,” Douglass said.

The Wildcats advanced to face top-seeded and undefeated Marysville (12-0) in the Region 2 finals at a site to be determined. The Monarchs beat Toledo Whitmer 49-14 in the other semifinal game.

Springfield beat Marysville 23-0 in the first round of the 2019 Region 2 playoffs, but that game was “a long time ago,” Douglass said.

“We’ve got a lot of improvement to do this week in practice and just try to get ready,” Douglass said “It’s big boy ball.”

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