Versailles football back in state finals for first time since 2004

Versailles High School senior Carson Bey (left) and senior teammate Landon Henry celebrate after Bey scored a touchdown during their 28-22 victory over Canal Winchester Harvest Prep in a Division V state semifinal game on Saturday at London's Bowlus Field. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Name Test

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Versailles High School senior Carson Bey (left) and senior teammate Landon Henry celebrate after Bey scored a touchdown during their 28-22 victory over Canal Winchester Harvest Prep in a Division V state semifinal game on Saturday at London's Bowlus Field. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Tigers top Harvest Prep in Division V semifinals, joined by MAC rivals Coldwater, Marion Local in championship games

LONDON — One of Ohio’s storied high school football programs is headed back to the state championship game for the first time since 2004.

Senior running back Landon Henry and senior quarterback Carson Bey each rushed for two TDs as Versailles beat Canal Winchester Harvest Prep 28-22 in a Division V state semifinal game on Saturday night at London’s Bowlus Field.

“It’s a fantastic win over a really good team,” said Tigers coach Ryan Jones, who is in his third season with the program. “(The team) did a fantastic job tonight. There were some ups-and-downs and some swings in momentum, but they kept fighting back and they were determined to come away with a win.”

With the victory, the Tigers (14-1) advanced to face three-time defending state champion and undefeated Kirtland (15-0) in the D-V state championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

The Tigers are seeking their seventh state championship and first since beating Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph in 2003. Versailles lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in its last appearance in 2004.

“It’s crazy,” Henry said. “It hasn’t happened in a long time. The fans love it, the town loves it. It’s going to be fun, but we have to focus on next week.”

A year ago, Versailles lost to Roger Bacon 31-28 in a D-V, Region 20 semifinal game. The loss stuck with them throughout the entire offseason, Bey said.

“This year, we knew we weren’t going to let that happen again,” he said. “We knew what we had to do.”

The Tigers struck first, scoring on a 3-yard run by Henry with 2:42 remaining in the first quarter. The Warriors responded on their next possession. On fourth-and-14 from the Versailles 27-yard line, Harvest Prep quarterback Aidan Rogers found Troy White for a touchdown to make it 7-6.

Versailles quickly responded, scoring on a 24-yard TD run by Bey to make it 14-6. Bey finished the game with 179 yards on 20 carries for the Tigers.

The Warriors cut the lead to two points on a 1-yard run by Bowling Green State University commit Jaylen Jennings and tied the score when Rogers hit Justin Bautista for the two-point conversion with 4:15 remaining. The Tigers had a field goal blocked as time expired to end the first half.

The third quarter belonged to the Tigers. After stopping the Warriors on fourth-and-1 on their own 44-yard line, Bey scored on a 1-yard run to give Versailles a lead it would never relinquish.

On Harvest Prep’s next possession, Henry intercepted a pass and returned it to the Warriors 28-yard line. A few plays later, he scored on a 3-yard run to give the Tigers a 28-14 lead.

Harvest Prep drove 85 yards in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 5-yard by Marchello Cox.

Jennings found Shawn Ruffin on the 2-point conversion pass to make it 28-22.

“We bent but didn’t break and we were able to get the tough yards at the end when it mattered,” Jones said.

The Warriors attempted an onside kick, but would never get the ball back. Bey ran for 11 yards on third-and-4 from the Harvest Prep 45 and knelt into victory formation to seal a trip to Canton next weekend.

“We knew we were going to get (the first down) and we got the job done,” Bey said.

The Tigers will face another tough test in Kirtland, which beat Ottawa-Glandorf 28-6 in the other state semifinal for its 55th straight victory.

“They’ve got great tradition and they’ve won a heck of a lot of games,” Jones said. “I know it will be an unbelievable challenge for us.”

The ride to the state championship has been fantastic, Jones said. They’ll get to play one more week on the state’s biggest stage.

“These kids are fantastic and it’s been a pleasure to coach them,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t rather coach anywhere else. I love it here and I love the kids here. It’s great to see them experience it and it’s great for the community to be back in the state championship. It’s going to be a heck of a week.”

The mighty Midwest Athletic Conference will have three teams playing for state titles next Saturday in Canton. Coldwater advanced in Division VI, Marion Local in Division VII.

Coldwater 35, West Jefferson 13: Led by Reece Dellinger and Isaac Fullenkamp, Coldwater rolled in Saturday’s state semifinal. Dellinger finished 19-of-28 for 273 yards with two touchdowns and Fullenkamp had 21 rushes for 117 yards with two scores. Jesse Meyer added seven receptions for 112 yards with one TD.

Coldwater (13-2) will face Carey (14-1) in the Division VI state championship game at 3 p.m. next Saturday.

Marion Local 34, Hopewell-Loudon 7: Peyton Otte passed for four touchdowns and ran in another to spur Marion Local in a Division VII state semifinal.

Robby Buschur and Drew Seitz led a defensive effort for Marion Local that has limited opposition in the playoffs to just 21 total points.

Marion Local will go for its 12th state title against Newark Catholic next Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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