Tim Rogers

MASSILLON: After a first half in which its offense was out of synch, Archbishop Hoban struck for two touchdowns in less than three minutes in the third quarter and Tyler Gilchrist ran 99 yards for a touchdown after intercepting a pass to give the Knights a 33-21 victory over Zanesville on Friday in a Division III state semifinal game in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The Knights (13-1) will play defending state champ Toledo Central Catholic (12-2) for the state title at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ohio Stadium. It will be Hoban’s first appearance in the championship game. Toledo Central defeated Trotwood-Madison to reach the title game for the fourth time.

Gilchrist’s interception came as Zanesville appeared to be on the verge of pulling to within five points with 9:14 to play. The Blue Devils had reached the Hoban 1-yard line but a false start pushed the ball back to the 6-yard line.

Hoban’s offense in the first half was supplied by the leg of junior kicker Grant Kersh. Linebacker Dane Kersh’s younger brother, who entered the game having made 57-of-59 point-after attempts, kicked field goals of 42, 39, 29 and 31 yards after the Knights’ offense stalled. He finished the game with three PATs in just as many attempts.

Zanesville, in the playoffs for the seventh time, took a 7-0 lead after recovering a Todd Sibley fumble at the Hoban 19 on the Knights’ first possession and a clutch, diving 21-yard reception by Jzamari Mathews at the goal line on a third-and-12 play. Leondre Crosby, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior running back and linebacker, scored on the next play.

Crosby, who entered the game having rushed for 1,502 yards and 19 touchdowns, finished with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries against the Knights. However, he was forced out of the game with an apparent knee injury on Zanesville’s first possession of the second half and Hoban took advantage.

Sibley, who had 181 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, scored on a scintillating 81-yard run four plays after Crosby left the game. Crosby returned a short time later, but Sibley’s touchdown had pushed the Knights’ lead to 19-7.

Kersh’s fourth field goal was set up by an interception by Anthony Christian at the Zanesville 40 with 19 seconds left. Hoban junior quarterback Danny Clark completed a 21-yard pass to Garrett Houser, who dragged two tacklers for the final six yards after the catch while Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell ran down the sideline to call his final timeout.

Clark, returning to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time after transferring to Hoban from Massillon, completed just 9-of-26 passes for 151 yards.

When Crosby returned to the game, he was unable to put much weight on his leg and got off a 6-yard punt that gave Hoban the ball at the Blue Devils’ 22. Sibley scored his second touchdown of the game four plays later on a 5-yard run. It came 2:49 after his 81-yarder.

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