FAIRFIELD, Ohio – St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht looked around at his team gathered in the postgame huddle and smiled.
The Bombers are one of 16 teams remaining in the Ohio Division I playoffs. Friday night was step one. Step two looms against the state’s No. 1 team next week.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. Xavier 35, Fairfield 14
St. X took advantage of the turnover battle and defeated host Fairfield 35-14 Friday night in a D-I, Region 4 quarterfinal. The Bombers (6-5) are the No. 5 seed and Fairfield (7-4) was the No. 4 seed.
“I’ve got a group of kids who play hard,” Specht said. “They fight, they claw and they scratch. For all they’ve been through this season from an injury standpoint, these guys keep grinding.”
St. X coach Steve Specht speaking to his team after the game pic.twitter.com/GIEJITxsET
— Mike Dyer (@MikeDyer) November 5, 2016
St. X scored 21 points off turnovers. Junior quarterback Chase Wolf was 21 of 33 passing for 247 yards and four touchdowns. Two touchdown passes went to senior Andrew Wittrock, who had seven receptions for 103 yards.
“I just think we are clicking at the right time,” junior defensive end Bobby Jefferson said. “We are coming together. Defense is playing solid and so is the offense. Special teams is getting it done.”
St. X plays Colerain (11-0) in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at a site to be determined. It will be the 34th meeting between the two schools. Colerain won 20-14 in overtime at St. X on Sept. 2.
“I am very excited,” Wolf said. “I think we can beat them. They are the best team in the state by far. I think if we execute the way we did tonight and we take advantage of defensive plays and good field position, I think we should compete very well.”
Fairfield had four fumbles and threw three interceptions. Coach Jason Krause admitted his team didn’t play well and said the Indians couldn’t do that and expect to win.
“Obviously that’s a game changer any night,” Krause said. “When you are playing at this level and this caliber of opponent, you can’t do that.”
Fairfield scored first when senior James Mitchell returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown at the 6:40 mark of the first quarter.
Mitchell also had 79 net yards rushing on 17 carries.
The Bombers struck late in the second quarter when Wolf found Wittrock for a 52-yard touchdown pass connection. Wittrock eluded two tackles after a short reception and took it to the end zone.
St. X senior defensive back Delan Stallworth picked off a pass with 43 seconds left in the second quarter. The Bombers capitalized when Wolf found Wittrock on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Stallworth, a Princeton University commit, also had a late pick-six for the final score in the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, Wolf found sophomore Jared Kreimer for a 15-yard touchdown pass connection. Senior running back Quinn Earley caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 8:03 left in the fourth.
Friday was the first meeting since the first round of the 2005 playoffs when St. X won 45-0. The teams also played in the 2000 season opener when St. X won 15-9.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
St. Xavier 7-7-7-14--35
F-Mitchell 74 punt return (McGuire kick)
X-Wittrock 52 pass from Kreimer (Rockwood kick)
X-Wittrock 14 pass from Wolf (Rockwood kick)
X-Kreimer 15 pass from Wolf (Rockwood kick)
F-Robinson 20 run (McGuire kick)
X-Earley 17 pass from Wolf (Rockwood kick)
X-Stallworth 15 interception return (Rockwood kick)
Records: F 7-4, X 6-5
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