BEAVERCREEK — The line of cars stretching more than a mile down Dayton-Xenia Road in Beavercreek Friday night just prior to kickoff confirmed the fact the Division V regional final football game between West Jefferson and Middletown Madison was a big one.
Those hundreds of fans who may have missed the start of the game, were definitely in the stadium when the game was ultimately decided.
Madison (11-2) muscled its way to a commanding 42-7 victory and advanced to a Division V state semifinal, bringing the season to a disappointing end for the Roughriders (12-1).
For the second week in a row West Jefferson dug itself a huge first-half hole, but unfortunately for them they were unable to get themselves out of it this time.
“I felt like we lost the physical battle in all three phases,” West Jeff coach Shawn Buescher said. “I felt over the course of time that wore us down. I think the momentum of the turnovers was the big thing. When you have that many turnovers in a game of this magnitude you’re not going to have much success.”
Madison was able to grind out huge chunks of yardage in the first half running behind a physical offensive line mainly with junior running back Cameron Svarda.
Svarda scored on a 9-yard run with 10:01 left in the second quarter. The scoring run capped a 46-yard drive that started after West Jeff senior quarterback Lance Lambert fumbled the ball away near midfield.
After another drive in which it couldn’t move the ball, West Jefferson punted the ball away and pinned the Mohawks deep in their own end with 7:52 to go in the first half. With the ball deep in its own end, Madison handed the ball off to Svarda, who scooted off-tackle right and outran the opposition on a 77-yard scoring run.
The touchdown made it 14-0. West Jeff moved the ball into Madison territory on its next possession, but it failed to pick up a 4th-and seven at the Mohawks 28-yard line, turning the ball over on downs with just 4:38 to go in the half.
Madison put together another long drive and used all but :06 seconds, getting a 24-yard field goal by Graham Reich, increasing the Mohawk lead to 17-0.
Those six seconds proved to be six too many as West Jeff took full advantage of what would be its only scoring play of the night. Instead of kicking the ball deep, Madison chose to kick it short. West Jeff’s Gabe Jones fielded the kickoff and then weaved his way through a wave of would-be Mohawk tacklers and raced into the end zone with no time on the clock, making it 17-7 at the half after the PAT.
In desperate need of something good to happen in the second half, the big break never happened for the Roughriders. Lambert couldn’t get the West Jeff offense going thanks to a Madison defense determined not to let the standout signal caller get going offensively.
Lambert threw three second-half interceptions, all of which were turned into points by the Mohawks. For the game he threw four picks and lost a fumble. With the Roughriders not being able to run the ball effectively, Madison was able to really pin its ears back and go after Lambert.
“I think it was pressure they were applying to him upfront,” Buescher said of his quarterback’s struggles. “They made him hurry some throws and we had some trouble on the edge creating some space.
“We’ve handled adversity all year long, but today I think it was the actual pass rush. I don’t think he was pressing, it was more the pressure they were applying. They were physical upfront and they move very well, we thought we might have to be more balanced, but we couldn’t get our run game going and had to rely more on the pass. We weren’t really able to establish our run game.”
Madison’s ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball was key in the Mohawk’s win. When they had the ball they were able to punish the West Jefferson defense, most of the damage was done on the ground.
“They’re very good at the system they run,” Buescher said. “I think it’s a great system and they do a good job of running it. We knew that might cause us some problems. We knew we had to find some answers for it, but obviously they were able to have some success.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.