The Chillicothe football team was no stranger to needing an extra period to decide the outcome of a game after having to go to overtime to defeat Cameron back in week 4. The Hornets used that experience to their advantage in a 28-22 victory over Richmond in the first round of the Class 3 District 8 tournament, a game that was tied 22-22 at the end of the 4th quarter. The win advances the Hornets into the district semifinal next Friday night after a dramatic opening round game in which both teams had opportunities to come out on top.
Chillicothe wasted no time to get on the score board as Silas Midgyett took the opening play from scrimmage to the house on a 75 yard touchdown rush. Later in the first quarter Javon Kille picked off a pass from Spartans’ quarterback, Jacob Lieberknecht. The Hornets capitalized on the turnover scoring again to add to their lead, as Midgyett found the end zone from 7 yards out and Kille tacked on the 2 point conversion to extend the lead to 14-0 in favor of Chillicothe.
In the 2nd quarter, the advantage was with both defenses. Richmond got a stop to force a punting situation and then brought the blitz tackling Hornets’ punter Oliver Perry before he could even get the kick away. The Chillicothe defense finished the half with two straight takeaways, first it was Henry Hurtgen recovering a fumble by Dryden Hendrix, and later Cayden Larson made a jarring hit on Lieberknecht to force a fumble on a strip sack that was recovered by Ricky Wilson. Neither defense allowed a score in the quarter and it was still a 14-0 lead for Chillicothe at the half.
Richmond received the 3rd quarter kick and quickly took the ball down the field for their first points of the night. A direct snap to the running back Hendrix put the Spartans on the scoreboard. Richmond added the 2 point conversion on a run from full back Dayton Bushong. Richmond maintained the momentum and scored later in the 3rd quarter on their longest play of the night, a 42 yard run by Hendrix. After Lieberknecht converted for 2 points on the quarterback keeper, Richmond had their first lead of the game at 16-14.
Chillicothe showcased a positive response to the adversity with Kille as the focal point. First he returned the kickoff into Richmond territory to set up the offense with a short field, then he received the handoff on 7 of the 8 plays during the drive that retook the lead for the Hornets, highlighted by a 1 yard touchdown run. Jaishon White caught the 2 point conversion and Chillicothe held the advantage early in the 4th quarter 22-16. Richmond responded right away with another touchdown drive. On 4th and 6 from the 8 yard line Lieberknecht hit receiver Bryer Farnan on a slant in the end zone to tie the game. The Hornets defense stopped the Spartans on the 2 point try and the score was all square, 22-22.
On the next Hornets drive, Farnan made another play for his team, intercepting quarterback Cooper Robinson to give the ball back to his team in plus territory. With the season on the line, the Hornets defense made stop after stop to preserve the tie. Chillicothe forced a punt following the turnover, but the Spartans special teams unit pinned Chillicothe at the 1 yard line. The Hornets had to dodge a safety and moved the ball enough for Perry to be able to punt from the 5 yard line, but a long return by Logan Moyer and a penalty on Chillicothe set Richmond up at the 9 yard line with under 2 minutes remaining. Larson, the leader of the defense, then made arguably his most pivotal play of the season, recovering a fumble inside the 10 yard line to prevent Richmond from going ahead in the game. After another Hornets punt, Richmond had one more chance in regulation, taking over at the 31 yard line of Chillicothe. The secondary came up big, forcing four straight incompletions to send the game to overtime.
In overtime the Hornets defense continued to turn up the pressure. Larson added to his team leading tackle for loss total as he stuffed Hendrix behind the line of scrimmage and then the Hornets made a 4th down stand to shutout the Spartans in the overtime period. Chillicothe took over on offense needing any points to secure the win and advance in the postseason. After 3 runs by Midgyett positioned the Hornets at the 15 yard line, Chillicothe brought in Sol’jier Allen who had only touched the ball once on offense in the game for a loss of 9 yards. Coach Chad Smith and his staff showed confidence in their junior playmaker, providing him another chance and Allen delivered. Taking the toss sweep to the left, Allen followed his exceptional blocking and then showcased his speed, racing towards the pylon to score the game winning touchdown on the final play. The Hornets, both on the field and on the sidelines erupted in emotion after earning a hard fought postseason victory over Richmond 28-22.
With the win, the Hornets are now 5-5 this year, while Richmond’s season comes to an end at 4-6. Chillicothe, the 3 seed in the district tournament advances to take on #2 St. Pius in the district semifinals on the road next Friday night after the Warriors defeated Northeast 57-0 in their opening round game. The winner of next Friday’s semifinal will play either #1 Maryville or #4 Cameron in the Class 3 District 8 Championship.