Springfield High School’s Jeff Tolliver runs the ball against Hilliard Davidson during their Division I, Region 3 semifinal game on Friday night at London High School. Hilliard Davidson won 17-14.

Springfield falls to Hilliard Davidson in regional semifinal

Hilliard Davidson made a field goal in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead and held on to beat Springfield 17-14 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal game on Friday night at London High School.

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Delian Bradley and Tavion Smith each had touchdowns for Springfield, which finished its season 9-3. It was the first regional semifinal appearance for Springfield since 2010 when it lost to Hilliard Davidson, 9-0.

“It’s part of the process,” Douglass said. “It hurts, but to get there, you’ve got to learn how to get there. Next year, we’ll be better for it. We’ll grinding in the weight room in January, trying to get a little closer to Canton.”

Hilliard Davidson (10-2) will face Pickerington Central (10-2) — which beat Northmont 33-7 in the other semifinal — in the Region 3 final at 7 p.m. next Friday at a site to be determined.

Springfield recovered a fumble on Hilliard Davidson’s 27-yard line with about 1:42 remaining in the first quarter. A few plays later, Bradley scored from two yards out to give Springfield a 7-0 lead.

Davidson tied the game on a 1-yard TD run by Jordan Hicks with about three minutes remaining in the first half. After pinning Springfield deep in its own territory, Davidson’s Christian Sweet returned a punt 53 yards that led to another 1-yard TD run by Hicks with about a minute remaining.

Hilliard Davidson received the ball to start the second half and held it for nearly 10 minutes. The drive resulted in a 37-yard field goal into the wind by kicker Sean Carrier to extend the lead to 17-7.

On its next possession, Springfield was faced with a 4-and-1 from its own 37-yard line and opted to go for it, but were stuffed by Davidson.

However, on Davidson’s next play, Smith picked up a fumble and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.

“That’s why you play for (48 minutes),” Douglass said. “You never know. You never know when a play is going to come up. (Smith) has been making plays all year. That was just evident again today.”

Springfield forced Davidson to punt on its next possession. The Wildcats drove the ball to Davidson’s 23-yard line, but were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct that resulted in an ejection.

“It was a legitimate call,” Douglass said. “He did hit the kid, peeled back on him, blocked him really hard, which put us back.”

The penalty gave Springfield a 2nd-and-25 from the 38-yard line. Braeden Carey’s 44-yard field goal attempt fell short on fourth down with two minutes remaining.

The Wildcats got the ball back on a punt with about six minutes remaining, but were tackled near midfield to end the game.

Douglass thanked the seniors for their efforts this season. The Wildcats won the GWOC National East title and advanced as far in the playoffs as only one other team in Springfield High School history.

“They gave us four good years,” he said. “I keep telling the kids, it’s part of the process,” Douglass said. “We went a week further than we did the last time we made the playoffs (in 2016).”

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