Jimmy Miller

ORRVILLE: Mistakes could have unraveled Mogadore in a Division VII state semifinal game on Friday night, but the Wildcats bounced back to defeat Danville 35-21 to secure a spot in the state championship game.

The Wildcats (13-1) found themselves scrambling for answers after two consecutive turnovers and an early 7-0 deficit, but they settled in before the Blue Devils (13-1) could manage any substantial damage.

Mogadore senior quarterback Zeddie Pollock threw an interception on the second play of the Wildcats first drive, and their next possession ended with a fumble.

Even when the Wildcats did score Pollock found senior Andrew Barker in the end zone for a touchdown they needed to call timeout before the extra point kick and the Blue Devils blocked it anyway.

But the Wildcats, whove made 17 consecutive postseason appearances, recovered with a 14-point second quarter. On the possession following the Barker score, Pollock and the Mogadore offense marched 66 yards for another touchdown.

Pollock spun out of a surefire sack on second down around midfield and turned it into a manageable third down, and the Wildcats subsequently picked up three consecutive first downs before junior tailback Austin Williams trudged ahead for a 1-yard touchdown. Pollock connected with senior running back Luke Cramer on a 2-point conversion play to put the Wildcats ahead 14-7.

Mogadore kept the momentum for the rest of the game.

The Blue Devils tied the game at 14-14, but Pollock scored on a 35-yard run after the pocket collapsed around him just minutes later. Pollocks run capped the scoring for the half and ultimately put the Wildcats ahead for good.

On their first possession of the second half, Wildcats senior running back Josh Tompkins plunged into the end zone from 4 yards to make it 28-14.

The Blue Devils had to start backed up to their own end zone, and even after a 56-yard play put them in Mogadore territory, the Wildcats recovered a fumble that ended Danvilles promising drive.

The Wildcats churned away the remainder of the third quarter and two minutes of the fourth with a 17-play drive, although an intentional grounding penalty squashed the potential for a game-sealing field goal or touchdown. Instead, the Wildcats had a turnover on downs. But Tompkins intercepted a pass by Danville senior quarterback Ridge Durbin, who was battered by an aggressive Mogadore pass rush that finished with five quarterback sacks.

Williams scored on a 1-yard touchdown with under three minutes to play that effectively ended the game, although the Blue Devils scored one last time at the 1:49 mark.

Pollock finished with 101 yards passing, and Williams paced the offense with 123 yards rushing on 24 carries. Cramer and Tompkins combined for 164 yards on the ground.

The Wildcats advance to play Fort Recovery, the winner of the other Division VII semifinal, in the state title game at 3 p.m. Friday.

Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps.