By Joey Slovin
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – When Springfield sophomore running back Xavier Garland broke off on a 36-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter, Sycamore saw something it was not accustomed to: a deficit.
Prior to Friday, the Aviators had not trailed in a game this season.
But after falling behind by six, the Sycamore defense held the Wildcats to just 52 offensive yards in the first half – all from Garland – and went on to beat Springfield, 33-14 at Evans Stadium.
"They are one of the better teams we will face all season," said Springfield coach Eric Gillespie of Sycamore, which has outscored opponents, 102-21 this season.
Sycamore senior quarterback Greg Simpson connected with junior receiver Ryan Wahler for a 27-yard touchdown pass that gave Sycamore the lead, 7-6.
The Aviators would go on to score twice more in the first half, taking a 20-6 halftime lead. Sycamore powered through the Wildcats’ defense for 106 yards through the first half.
The Aviators were equally dominant on defense in the opening two quarters, ripping away two fumbles. One was returned 28 yards to the Sycamore end zone by senior linebacker Tinashe Bere.
With time running out in the opening half, Sycamore senior running back Alex Tillman pounded in a 9-yard TD.
The Aviators wasted no time getting into the end zone again in the third quarter, as senior running back Solomon McMullen increased the lead to 21 with his touchdown run.
Senior defensive end Cayden Richter keyed Sycamore’s defensive effort. He was able to beat the Springfield lineman and get to the quarterback, forcing hurried passes and disrupt a myriad of plays.
Early in the fourth quarter, Simpson launched a bomb for a 53-yards completion to Wahler, landing the Aviators in the Springfield red zone. Two plays later, McMullen busted into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night to put Sycamore up, 33-6.
Springfield senior wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass caught a bomb from Wildcats senior quarterback Derek Williams over the middle and sprinted into the end zone untouched for the final score.
Snodgrass, who Gillespie called a "key player to watch for", is a University of Kentucky commit whose soft hands and quick feet lead to a deadly combination on the field.