Moeller defensive lineman Elijah Taylor, left, celebrates with Cody Mackey after a sack as the Crusaders defeated Colerain 35-26 in the Division I regional semifinal on Saturday at Atrium Stadium in Mason, Ohio. Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO
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Ohio football state semifinal preview: Moeller (12-1) vs. Hilliard Davidson (13-0)

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OHIO DIVISION I SEMIFINAL

Moeller (12-1) at Hilliard Davidson (13-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 30 @, 7 p.m. at Welcome Stadium, University of Dayton

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Private versus public: It seems to have become a way of life in the southern half of Ohio for a spot in the Division I state championship game. Seven times in the last 10 years this side of the bracket has seen a private school square off against a public program in the semifinal game. Moeller is shooting for a second straight state title. Hilliard Davidson has been the class of the public schools in Columbus and south in the 21st century. The Wildcats are searching for their third state crown since 2006 and first since 2009. This affair will be an act of attrition between two squads that love to impose their wills on opponents in the trenches. The final score will come down to who can knock down the “redwoods” and clear the path to victory.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Davidson's three-headed backfield monster of Phillipie Motley, D. D. Clark and quarterback Nick Iske has given opposing defenses fits all season long. All three players are capable of exploding for big games. Two-way star Markus Bailey has game-changing ability on both sides of the ball.

Moeller quarterback Gus Ragland has racked up 3,083 yards of total offense (1,726 passing, 1,357 rushing) while accounting for 43 touchdowns (18 passing, 25 rushing). Ragland has run for at least 120 yards with 15 rushing touchdowns in the last five weeks. Defensive back and Ohio State commit Sam Hubbard has elevated his game in the playoffs with 29 total tackles and four interceptions in three contests.

TEAM TRENDS: Moeller is a three-point loss to Lakewood St. Edward, another Division I state semifinalist, from being unblemished. Since that loss Big Moe has beaten Louisville Trinity, St. Xavier, Elder and Colerain by at least nine points and three of those foes by 24 or more. The Moeller offense has posted 35 points or more six times in its last seven outings

Hilliard Davidson has made its deep playoff run because of a stingy defense. The Wildcats have allowed only seven points in each of their three postseason games. They have yet to yield more than 20 points in a game this fall, and only four foes have scored more than seven points on them.

MOELLER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Crusaders have to find a way to force Davidson to pass. Moeller could not corral the Colerain rushing attack last week and it left them in a dogfight. Unlike the Cardinals, this Wildcats team has the beef up front to stand toe-to-toe with Big Moe all the way to the bitter end.

HILLIARD DAVIDSON’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Keeping the Moeller offense off the field will be priority 1 for the Wildcats. Davidson did a great job last week of curtailing the Wayne passing game. The Wildcats were aided by four critical takeaways against the Warriors. It will take another Herculean effort by their defense on Saturday if they want to advance.

PREDICTION: HILLIARD DAVIDSON 28, MOELLER 20

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