Springfield’s Comeback Cats rally past Dublin Coffman for fifth straight regional championship

HILLIARD — After a 1-3 start, the Springfield Wildcats are regional champions for the fifth straight season.

Trailing by seven points at the half, the Wildcats scored two second-half touchdowns to beat Dublin Coffman 21-14 in the Division I, Region 2 championship game on Friday night at Hilliard Darby Stadium.

“God is so good and the kids and their belief in what he’s able to do,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “They just put their trust in him, and he saw them through. Now we’re sitting 9-5 and getting ready to go to the final four. I’m very proud of those guys.”

Senior Jayvin “BayBay” Norman rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns and junior Brent Upshaw threw a 28-yard TD pass to senior Da’Shawn Martin as the Wildcats won their sixth straight game.

Springfield (9-5) advances to play Cincinnati Moeller in a D-I state semifinal game for the third straight season on Friday, Nov. 24, at Piqua. The Crusaders (10-4) beat Lakota West 22-0 to win their third straight regional championship.

After driving into Springfield territory on its opening possession, Dublin Coffman fumbled to give the ball back to the Wildcats. On the next play, Norman sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown to give Springfield an early 7-0.

Coffman senior Quinn Hart scored on a 1-yard TD run with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. In the second quarter, junior Daven White scored on a 15-yard run to give Dublin Coffman a 14-7 halftime lead.

“When we went to the locker room at halftime, they didn’t budge, they didn’t get fearful, they weren’t making excuses,” Douglass said. “We knew what we had to do, we made the adjustments at halftime and did a good job in the second half of taking away (Coffman’s run game).”

After a key stop on fourth down midway through the third quarter, Upshaw found Martin on a 28-yard TD pass to tie the score at 14.

“(Brent) made a great throw and the offensive line did a great job giving him time,” Martin said.

Coffman marched into Springfield territory at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats were able to hold again. Norman followed with a 40-yard run to put Springfield at Coffman’s 32-yard line.

Norman converted a 4th-and-1 at Coffman’s 22. On the next play, Norman cut to the right, tiptoed down the sideline and leapt into the end zone, extending the ball across the pylon to give Springfield a 21-14.

“I was just trying to score for my brothers,” Norman said. “I see my teammates and they feed off my energy. I knew if I got to the end zone, the game was going to be over.”

The senior running back has rushed for 398 yards and four touchdowns in Springfield’s last two playoff victories.

“He has said ‘Coach, I got you,’ and I believe him,” Douglass said. “He hasn’t let me down since he’s been here these four years and he’s going to continue to do that. The offensive line did a tremendous job of blocking and our receivers did a great job on the perimeter.”

Coffman drove into Springfield territory, but the Wildcats held the Shamrocks on fourth down from the 19-yard line with 2:06 remaining.

The Shamrocks nearly got another chance to tie the game, forcing the Wildcats to punt in the final minute. However, Coffman were called for a personal foul attempting to block Springfield senior DaeDae Stapleton’s punt. The call gave Springfield a first down and they were able to run out the clock in victory formation.

Despite the program’s rough start, the Wildcats stood at the 50-yard line, hoisting another regional championship trophy — a feat the program believed it could accomplish, even when no one else did, Norman said.

“It’s great to do it five times,” he said, “It’s great. It’s a great feeling.”

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