CHILLICOTHE — The Chillicothe Cavaliers were riding high heading into the ninth week of the season, the only unbeaten team in the Frontier Athletic Conference at 3-0, looking to defend their title from a year ago.
The Washington Blue Lions came into the game at Chillicothe on a mission to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Blue Lions have been an offensive force throughout the season, but had yet to put it all together on the defensive side of the ball against a team with a winning record.
Washington had allowed an average of 35 points per game to be scored against them in the first eight games of the season.
On Friday night, the Blue Lions put together the complete game they’ve been looking for against a quality opponent and upended the Cavs, 20-7.
Washington improves to 6-3 overall and evens its FAC record at 2-2.
There is now a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Hillsboro, Chillicothe and Jackson now all standing at 3-1 with one game remaining.
Something will have to give next week when Jackson rolls into Chillicothe.
Meanwhile, the Blue Lions are surely in line for a boost in the computer ratings in Division IV, Region 16.
The official Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings won’t be released until early next week.
After a scoreless first quarter, Chillicothe’s Adrian Beverly completed a pass to Courtland Duncan for 26 yards and a touchdown. Matt Detty’s kick gave the Cavs a 7-0 lead at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter.
Dillon Steward plunged into the end zone from one-yard out with 4:03 to play until the half for the Blue Lions. A two-point conversion pass was no good. The score remained 7-6 Chillicothe at the half.
The Blue Lions simply shut out the Cavs in the second half, including a classic goal-line stand at one juncture.
It was late in the third quarter when Washington’s Gio Thomas completed a pass to Omar Porter for 32 yards and the go-ahead score. Steward ran in the two-point conversion to give Washington a 14-7 lead. That score came with 55 seconds to play in the third.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Thomas ran for a 9-yard touchdown. The Blue Lions went for two but the running play was thwarted by the Cavs.
From there, Washington held on for the next 11:39 of game time to keep the Cavs from any further scoring and secure the 20-7 victory.
Washington had 373 yards of offense to 341 for Chillicothe.
Thomas completed 14 of 25 passes for 141 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Beverly completed 4 of 9 passes for the Cavs for 59 yards and one touchdown.
Chillicothe had 282 yards rushing on 38 carries, compared with 232 yards on the ground for the Blue Lions on 51 attempts.
The Cavs’ Tyce Netter had 14 carries for 129 yards nad McKellan Lee carried nine times for 100 yards.
For the Blue Lions, Jameson McCane carried 22 times for 116 yards and Thomas rushed 24 times for 110 yards and one touchdown.
Porter had four receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown for Washington.
J’Quan Harris had two catches for 32 yards for the Cavs.
Washington will host the Miami Trace Panthers Friday night at Gardner Park.
It remains to be seen just how big a boost in the computer ratings the Blue Lions will receive, not only from the win over Chillicothe, but any other results from teams above them in the ratings and teams they have beaten previously this year.
One thing is for certain: the Blue Lions did, indeed, keep their playoff hopes alive with a must-win over the defending FAC champion Cavaliers.