By TED RADICK
DEFIANCE — Hicksville is a young football team with several freshmen and sophomores dotting the starting lineup.
In Saturday’s Division VII, Region 26 semifinal, the Aces ran into a McComb team with experienced senior starters on both sides of the ball and the results were indicative of a squad that’s been there and seen that.
McComb dominated in a 42-0 victory. The Panthers (11-1) now face Convoy Crestview (9-3), a 28-7 winner over Arlington the other Region 26 semi, at 7 p.m. this Saturday at Lima Senior. Hicksville’s season ended at 8-4.
McComb rushed for 329 yards, tallied 25 first downs and had 472 offensive yards. The Panthers held the ball for 32:07 of the 48 minutes. Hicksville, meanwhile, generated five first downs and 90 yards of offense.
“Defensively, they have speed at receiver and a quarterback that can wing it and I think we put pressure on them early,” McComb coach Kris Alge said.
Hicksville’s Jacob Greer was 5 of 13 with a pair of interceptions and 65 yards. Greer, Hicksville’s leading rusher coming into the game with 805 yards, was sacked five times and had 11 runs for minus-12 yards.
“We really didn’t allow him to get in a groove to throw it down the field,” Alge said. “Coach (Eric) Brickman had a pretty good game plan, and 7 (Kheagan Loe) had a really good game at defensive end where we got some sacks.”
Loe was in Greer’s grill the entire game.
“It’s hard to run inside, and that No. 7 is as good as anyone around here as far as defensive ends go so we couldn’t do a lot outside,” Hicksville coach Lucas Smith said. “That pass rush, we hardly had any time at all to throw the ball and they had a great game plan to not get beat over the top.”
On offense, the Panthers used a ground-and-pound attack sprinkled with passing when necessary.
McComb ran the ball 62 times on an increasingly gassed Hicksville defense.
“On the offensive line, we knew they were a little smaller than us,” Alge said. “It was senior domination on the offensive line. I thought we ran the ball pretty effectively, and Malachi (Abbott) threw the ball pretty effectively when we had to throw the ball.”
McComb scored on a 10-play drive in the first quarter, and it served as a prelude to the Panthers’ attack throughout the night. Nine of the 10 plays were runs, and Abbott found Tanner Schroder for 17 yards on a third-and-16 play to keep the drive going. Loe scored from 5 yards out to give McComb a 7-0 lead.
Hicksville’s first three drives went three-and-out, interception and three-and-out, and after the second punt McComb drove 54 yards in seven plays capped by Caden Schroeder’s 4-yard run.
Schroeder scored before the half on a 20-yard pass from Abbott.
“That was a big play right before half, and in the second half we scored pretty early,” Alge said. “It was huge, because Hicksville, in a lot of their games, scored a lot in the fourth quarter. We preached all week to our kids that they’re a second-half team.”
Jake Crouse took a screen pass 31 yards for a score to open the second half, and Abbott ran 62 yards on a keeper around right end on McComb’s next possession for a 35-0 lead.
Abbott was 7 of 9 passing for 143 yards and led McComb with 121 rushing yards on 11 carries.
“We haven’t seen that combination of speed and strength in one team all over the field,” Smith said. “Usually in small-town ball, you have one or two kids who can run like that. But usually teams don’t have them all over the field and 300 pounds of beef inside.”
Hicksville never threatened to score and ran only five plays on McComb’s side of the 50-yard line.
“For the most part this year, we were fortunate to be able to pick and choose our battles,” Smith said. “If they’re taking away one thing, we’re able to run something else. Tonight, they had all the guys in key positions and we couldn’t get anything going.”
McComb’s Jacob Case intercepted a pass on the last play of the third quarter and, with the running clock rule, McComb went 70 yards in 17 plays for its final score. The drive ate 11:26 of clock before Corey Swisher scored from 3 yards out.
“Big, strong, fast … they were exactly like we told our kids all week they were going to be like,” Smith said.
Hicksville 0 0 0 0 — 0
McComb 7 14 14 7 — 42
McC — Loe 5 run (T. Schroeder kick)
McC — C. Schroeder 4 run (T. Schroeder kick)
McC — C. Schroeder 20 pass from Abbott (T. Schroeder kick)
McC — Crouse 32 pass from Abbott (T. Schroeder kick)
McC — Abbott 62 run (T. Schroeder kick)
McC — Swisher 3 run (T. Schroeder kick)
First Downs: Hicksville, 5; McComb, 25
Rushes-Yards: Hicksville, 20-25; McComb, 62-329
Passing Yards: Hicksville, 65; McComb, 143
Comp.-Att.-Int.: Hicksville, 5-13; McComb, -2 7-9-0
Punts-Avg.: Hicksville, 5-34.8; McComb, 2-29
Fumbles-Lost: Hicksville, 1-1; McComb, 1-1
Penalties-Yards: Hicksville, 3-15; McComb, 3-25
RUSHING — Hicksville, Commisso 8-30, Tinis 1-7, Greer 11-(minus-12). McComb, Abbott 11-121, Crouse 15-64, Swisher 14-63, Loe 12-27, C. Schroeder 7-32, Bommarito 2-10.
PASSING — Hicksville, Greer 5-13-2-65. McComb, Abbott 7-9-0-143.
RECEIVING — Hicksville, Langham 3-45, Tunis 1-11, Commisso 1-9. McComb, Morris 2-52, T. Schroeder 2-26, Crouse 1-31, C. Schroeder 1-20, Case 1-14.
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