Shawnee still has its playoff magic. The Braves’ latest victim, in a second-half comeback eerily similar to almost every game in Shawnee’s run to the state title game in 2011, was Alter.
Down 24-21 at halftime and 34-21 in the third quarter, Shawnee rallied for a 42-34 victory in a Division III, Region 12 quarterfinal Saturday at Fairmont.
A 99-yard kickoff return by J.D. Davis with 13 seconds left in the third quarter and a 47-yard touchdown catch by Alex McCrory with 6:11 left in the fourth lifted Shawnee.
“I knew that we were going to come together when it came down to it,” McCrory said. “I’m glad the result came out the way it did. We should play every game at this field. The games just keep getting better and better at this field.”
Shawnee beat Thurgood Marshall 20-13 in the second round a year ago, winning on a goal-line stand in the final seconds. This time, Alter found itself scrambling in the final minute.
Alter quarterback Malik Zaire, who threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, wasn’t able to mount the miracle comeback. Alter finished the season 8-2.
“At Alter, no matter what kind of season you have, if you don’t walk out of here with the state championship trophy, you have some tears and regrets,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said.
Alter led 7-0 early on a 47-yard interception return by John Manfreda. But Shawnee scored the next three touchdowns, two on touchdown passes by Tyler Bostick, who threw for 214 yards.
Alter then went on a 17-0 run to end the half, taking the lead on a 34-yard field goal by Michael Ruffolo. The Knights added to the lead in the third quarter with a 7-yard pass from Zaire to Connor Vannatta and a 32-yard field goal by Ruffolo.
But Shawnee (8-3) found a way. The kickoff return by Davis, who also had seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown catch, turned the tide.
“Several of the coaches went around and said, ‘Someone make a play,’” Shawnee coach Rick Meeks said. “We’re down 10 points. Someone make a play, or our season’s going to be over.”
The Braves will play Athens (10-1) in the regional semifinals.
Bostick led the Braves with 66 rushing yards. McCrory had 47 on the ground.
Mitch Burnette had 42 rushing yards for Alter.