TROTWOOD — Tippecanoe’s defense came up with multiple clutch plays to help the Red Devils win the regional final Friday 20-17 over Hamilton Badin.
The Red Devils handed Badin a season ending first loss to claim its first-ever regional championship and earn a berth to the state semifinals.
“Oh man, this is awesome! It’s a great day to be a Red Devil,” said Tippecanoe coach Matt Burgbacher. “Our kids battled. They fight, and there’s one thing that I can guarantee is our kids are going to leave it all on the line and they did tonight.”
Tipp’s big defensive plays included Carson Robbins blocking a field goal late in the second quarter and breaking up a deep pass with just under two minutes left in the game.
Robbins also intercepted two passes.
Early in the third quarter sophomore defensive back Jackson Davis blocked a punt.
“We knew if we scored four times, and we did, that we were going to win this game,” Burgbacher stated. “Great job by our kids and a fabulous job by our assistant coaches. They did a great job. I did nothing. That punt block was great. It was only our second one of the year, but we go after them all the time.”
Tippecanoe took an early 3-0 lead on a 42 yard field goal by Jackson Kleather.
Badin answered with an eight play drive highlighted by a 39 yard pass from Alex Ritzie to senior wide receiver Braedyn Moore to give the Rams a first down at the Tipp 17.
On fourth down and six Nick Warner booted a 29 yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 8:04 remaining in the first quarter.
With 41 seconds left in the quarter running back Carter Russo scored on a four yard run to put Badin up 10-3.
The Red Devils responded with a quick score. Tipp quarterback Liam Poronsky hit Stanley Clyne for a 22 yard pass completion for a first down at the 42.
Three plays later Poronsky hit Xavier Jones for first down at Badin’s 33. On third and five Poronsky tossed a 28 yard touchdown pass to Lucas Merry and Kleather’s kick tied the game 10-10 with 9:52 left in the first half.
That score stood at halftime.
Badin mounted a 78 yard scoring drive capped by a 19 yard pass from Ritzie to Austin Buckle. Warner’s kick gave Badin a 17-10 advantage with 1:18 remaining in the third stanza.
Tipp answered with another quick score. Merry returned the ensuing kickoff to the 42 to give the Red Devils excellent field position.
On second and 11 Poronsky launched a deep pass to Clyne and Badin was penalized for pass interference to give Tipp a first down at Badin’s 44.
Poronsky kept the ball for a 12 yard gain to the 32. Jones gained 11 for another first down at the 21. Poronsky then hit Evan Liette with a 21 yard TD pass and Kleather’s kick knotted the score 17 all with two seconds left in the third quarter.
Neither team could sustain a drive on their first possessions in the fourth quarter. Badin was forced to punt again on its second fourth quarter possession and Tipp mounted what would prove to be the game winning drive.
Starting at their 15 the Red Devils picked up a first down when Poronsky fired a pass to Lukas Walker at the 26. Poronsky then hit Clyne along the Badin sideline for another completion and a late hit out of bounds resulted in a personal foul and gave Tipp a first down at the 50.
Badin’s defense stormed in on Poronsky who avoided a sack and threw the ball deep to Liette who was closely covered by Badin’s Carson Cheek.
Liette snared the pass and cut back to the center of the field before Cheek tracked him down to prevent a touchdown with a tackle at the three yard line.
Two plays later Poronsky kept the ball and scored but a holding penalty wiped out the go-ahead touchdown. Tipp had to settle for a 23 yard Kleather field goal to take a 20-17 lead with 3:18 remaining.
With 2:12 left and facing a fourth down and seven at their 35 the Rams opted to go for broke. Ritzie threw a deep pass over the middle that Carson Robbins swatted away.
Tipp took over on downs and moved the ball to Badin’s 18. On fourth down and five with 28 seconds left the Red Devils went for it but Porinsky’s pass fell incomplete to give Badin one final shot of mounting a comeback with just 24 seconds left.
Payton Bey broke up another deep pass by Badin. After Ritzie completed an 11 yard pass for a first down at the 36 he dropped back to pass but Christian Hartman and Blake Thompson chased him out of the pocket and sacked Ritzie to seal the victory.
“We had all kinds of kids step-up tonight,” Burgbacher said. “That’s our football team. Every game it has been somebody different and tonight it was Carson Robbins’ night with a couple of big plays to force turnovers. We lost 19 starters from last year’s team and we weren’t sure what we had, but after week one we knew.
“And the one thing that I can guarantee everybody when we go and play we are going to leave it all on the line,” Burgbacher added. “We might not be the biggest, we may not be the fastest, we may not be the strongest but our kids leave it all on the field and what else could you ask for as a coach?”
The Rams threw for nearly 300 yards, rushed for 159 more, and out-gained the Red Devils 409-279.
Badin quarterback Alex Ritzie completed 27 of 37 pass attempts for 282 yards and one touchdown. Carter Russo rushed for 140 yards and one TD on 32 carries. Braedyn Moore had 13 catches for 125 yards and Austin Buckle added six catches for 78 yards.
Tippecanoe’s Liam Poronsky accounted for the majority of the Red Devils yardage completing 13 of 23 pass attempts for 193 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries.
Xavier Jones had 12 carries for 16 yards.
Evan Liette had two pass receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown. Stanley Clyne had eight receptions for 67 yards. Lucas Merry caught one pass for a 28 yard touchdown.
Lucas Walker and Xavier Jones each had one reception for 10 and 9 yards respectively.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at (937) 684-9124, or via email at [email protected].