COLUMBUS — The Washington Blue Lions opened the 2022 high school football playoffs with a game at Columbus South High School against the Cougars Friday night.
The Blue Lions fell behind 28-0 just over one quarter into the game.
Washington also trailed 34-7 with 9:44 to play in the first half before beginning a monumental comeback that they completed with a 61-54 victory.
Washington improves to 9-2 on the season and South ends the year with a record of 8-2.
Next up for the Blue Lions, a Region 11 quarterfinal game at Sheridan this Friday. The Generals, the No. 1 seed in Region 11, defeated No. 16 seed Circleville, 26-0 Friday night.
The Blue Lions got on the board on a 25-yard run by Rocky Jones with 10:52 to play in the first half.
R.J. Foose went 5 of 8 on extra-point kicks for the Blue Lions.
Down 34-7, Troy Thompson hit Tanner Lemaster for a 9-yard touchdown to put the score at 34-14 at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter.
Before long, Jones had an 18-yard touchdown run to put the score at 34-20. That score came with 7:23 to play in the first half.
Tre Jackson scored next for the Blue Lions on a 1-yard run that made it 34-27 with 1:49 to play in the half.
Katoryan Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown for the Cougars. Their two-point conversion run was good, giving the home team a 42-27 lead.
With just 35 seconds to go in the half, Thompson completed a pass to Isaiah Haithcock, good for 16 yards and a Blue Lion touchdown. The extra-point kick was blocked.
The teams combined for 75 first half points as the Cougars took a 42-33 lead into the locker room.
After scoring 33 points in the second quarter, which, may or may not be a school record, the Blue Lions had plenty left in the tank for the second half.
Washington outscored South 20-6 in the third quarter.
Thompson had a 3-yard pass to Haithcock to make it 42-40. That score came at the 10:38 mark of the third quarter.
Damon Griffin responded with a 40-yard scoring run for the Cougars, putting the score at 48-40.
Thompson found Calum Brown for a 15-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was blocked, leaving the Cougars with a 48-46 lead with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter.
Washington finally pulled into the lead with a 27-yard scoring pass play from Thompson to Jackson. Foose’s kick was good, giving the Blue Lions a 53-48 lead.
In this back and forth affair, no lead was safe.
In the fourth quarter, Griffin put South back into the lead with an 18-yard touchdown run. The two-point run was stopped by Washington; 54-53, Cougars with 9:20 to play in the game.
Thompson passed to Jones for a 25-yard touchdown.
Thompson then found A.J. Dallmayer for the two-point conversion and a 61-54 Washington lead. What turned out to be the final score of the game came with 7:44 remaining on the scoreboard clock.
South soon had the ball deep in Washington territory. The Blue Lion defense stepped up to the challenge and got the stop it had to have to preserve the lead and thus, the victory.
South had a fourth down and goal to go from the 10, but the pass was incomplete.
In the end, Washington was able to run out the clock for the 61-54 victory.
“Troy Thompson had six touchdowns and zero picks,” Washington head coach Chuck Williamson said afterward. “He had 328 yards passing. He was unbelievable.”
Williamson did not quite have words for the game performance of Rocky Jones.
Jones had 250 yards of offense, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and 107 receiving yards on five receptions and one touchdown.
Jones also had one tackle and one interception on defense.
Williamson praised the efforts of defenders Charles Souther and Caden Shiltz. Souther had four tackles, three for loss and one quarterback sack.
Shiltz had two tackles.
Mason Coffman had two tackles, one quarterback sack and one interception.
“We talk all the time about becoming an elite program,” Williamson said. Before the game, “We talked about playing for our community, for our parents.
“They had to get up for Chillicothe, then they had to get up for Jackson, then they had to get up for (Miami Trace),” Williamson said. “We told them today, ‘now, play for you. Play for you.’ And they did. The heart of a Lion. They played their rear ends off. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Trailing by nine points at the half, the Blue Lions exuded confidence in the locker room, Williamson said.
“They were like, ‘we’ve got this,’” Williamson said. “This group is just a different group. They just are. They believe in themselves and they believe in what they do. They believe in each other, that’s the most important thing. Tonight it showed.”
Washington ran 54 plays to 60 for Columbus South.
Washington had a total of 478 yards of offense to 320 for the Cougars.
Thompson had the above-mentioned 328 yards passing to 106 for South’s Damon Griffin.
Griffin was the game’s leading rusher with 154 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.
For the Blue Lions, Calum Brown had five receptions for 124 yards and one score.
Lots of points scored
One might think 61 points could be a school record, however, it is not.
You only have to go back to 2018 to find two games in which the Blue Lions scored more than 61 points.
That season the Blue Lions beat McClain, 62-20 and Circleville, 68-6.
The 115 combined points, while quite a lot, is also not a record for total points in a Blue Lion game.
Washington lost to Hillsboro in 2018, 71-50, a combined total of 121 points.