Missed opportunities cost Springfield in state championship game loss to St. Edward

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Springfield postgame press conference after state championship game loss to St. Edward on Dec. 3, 2021

Wildcats can’t climb out of 16-0 hole in first trip to final game

CANTON — The state runner-up trophy sat on the turf behind the Springfield Wildcats as coach Maurice Douglass delivered his final postgame speech of the season. The players didn’t forget it. They carried it to the postgame press conference inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, and as they left the room following that press conference, Douglass reminded them that even the runner-up trophy is a prized possession.

No Springfield team had ever won it, of course.

The Wildcats wanted the bigger prize but lost 23-13 to Lakewood St. Edward in the Division I state championship game Friday. Missed opportunities throughout the game haunted them as they couldn’t dig themselves out of an early 16-0 hole.

“It was a good game,” Douglass said. “We just didn’t execute when we needed to. We didn’t do as good as we needed to.”

The Wildcats scored twice on five trips into the red zone and had other promising drives stall short of the red zone. On their first drive, they had a first down at the St. Edward 24-yard line but couldn’t score. They reached the St. Edward 9 in the final seconds of the first half but ran out of time and settled for a 26-yard field goal that was no good.

Springfield trailed 16-7 at halftime but got the ball to start the third quarter and again moved the ball. It had a first down at the St. Edward 9. The drive ended when Te’Sean Smoot threw an interception.

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Springfield trailed 23-7 after three quarters yet still had more chances. After Delian Bradley forced a fumble and recovered it at the St. Edward 33, the Wildcats went 3-and-out.

Still, there was enough time. On Springfield’s next drive, it reached the St. Edward 9 only to have to settle for another field-goal attempt that was blocked.

That was Springfield’s last chance. St. Edward ran out the lock in the final minutes.

“We tried our hardest to execute and get in the right stuff,” Smoot said. “Everything didn’t go our way.”

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WATCH: Springfield awarded state runner-up trophy on Dec. 3, 2021

Smoot completed 29 of 43 passes for 349 yards. He ran for a 9-yard score in the second quarter and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Brown early in the fourth quarter. Brown caught six passes for 103 yards. Shawn Thigpen caught 10 passes for 105 yards.

While Springfield focused on the passing game and lost 30 yards on 20 rushes, St. Edward leaned on its running game. Danny Enovitch ran 72 yards on the first play of the game, reaching the 1-yard line, and finished with 210 yards on 32 carries.

Springfield stopped St. Edward four straight times from the 1 on that first drive. It was not an omen for another dominant effort by the Wildcats defense, which shut out seven opponents.

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Enovitch scored on a 17-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter. Christian Ramos threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Connor Goodall to give St. Edward a 16-0 lead midway through the second quarter. In the third quarter, Enovitch scored on a 9-yard run to extend the lead to 23-7.

Springfield (13-2) fell short of the first state championship for a Clark County team in the playoff era in its first trip to the final game, while St. Edward won its fifth state title since 2010.

“I can’t say how proud I am of these guys for their attitudes all year” St. Edward coach Tom Lombardo said. “People ask, ‘What about this team?’ And I say it all the time, it’s their lunch-pail mentality. They kind of had their lunch and went to work every day. They did what they were supposed to do. A very mature group.”

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