By TED RADICK
MILLBURY — McComb’s offensive attack obviously gets a lot of attention.
But the Panthers’ defense is pretty good, too. McComb proved it by holding Tiffin Calvert to 110 total yards, 52 coming on the ground, in a 42-0 victory Friday in a Division VI, Region 22 semifinal at Lake High School.
Calvert entered the game with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Tyler Long and fullback Daniel Kwiat. McComb shut down both, with Kwiat running for just 8 yards on 11 carries and Long 46 yards on 14 attempts.
“McComb’s secret weapon is their defense,” said Calvert head coach Todd Fox. “They’re very good. Offensively, everybody knows they’re good. People don’t understand how good their defense is.”
The Panthers (12-0) advance to play either Delphos St. John’s (8-4) on Friday at a site to be determined. McComb last played in a regional final in 2010 and lost to eventual state champion Delphos St. John’s.
Calvert trailed 14-0 early but had a good drive beginning late in the first quarter. The Senecas (7-5) drove inside the McComb 5, but a third-down play lost a yard and Calvert couldn’t covert a fourth-and-4.
“All season, we’ve been working on stopping the run,” McComb senior defensive tackle Spencer Nauth said. “We’ve worked on holding our gaps and letting the linebackers fill.”
Calvert had three shots at the Panthers inside the 5 and couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.
“We’ve had quite a few games where our defense has been on point,” Nauth said.
“They had our backs to the wall,” McComb defensive end Michael Jones said. “Our defense made a great stand right there. They put us against the wall and we fought back.”
That defensive stand pretty much eliminated the drama. Despite three first-half turnovers and slew of penalties, the Panthers controlled the action.
McComb ground out 426 yards rushing and had 20 first downs and 505 total yards. Jerry Brown led the way with 243 rushing yards on 22 carries, including 218 yards in the first half as McComb built a 21-0 lead.
McComb wasted little time in getting rolling after a Calvert three-and-out to start the game. Brown ran 48 yards out of the Wildcat formation on the second play, and gained 73 yards on four attempts, including a 17-yard touchdown run.
Dalton Buck took over for the Panthers’ next score. Buck, 5 of 7 for 54 yards, completed two throws and scored late in the first quarter on a 9-yard run. Cody Wilson added a 3-yard scoring run late in the second quarter.
Wilson ran seven times for 89 yards in the second half as McComb essentially played keep-away with ball possession. He scored on a 2-yard plunge on the Panthers’ first possession of the second half, and Clay Dysert broke a couple of tackles on a 20-yard scoring run later in the third quarter.
Andrew Gibson went in from a yard out midway through the fourth quarter.
With all that offense, though, McComb coach Kris Alge was quick to credit his defense and its second straight shutout in the postseason.
“We practiced Tuesday at Donnell (Stadium in Findlay), and our coaches made some adjustments and were in their car until about 10:30 figuring out how we could defend these guys,” he said.
“Michael Jones is unbelievable. He was playing lights out. Defense wins the games.”
Tiffin Calvert 0 0 0 0 — 0
McComb 14 7 14 7 — 42
MCC — Brown 17 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Buck 9 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — C. Wilson 3 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — C. Wilson 2 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Dysert 20 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Gibson 1 run (Beeson kick)
First Downs 8 20
Rushes-yards 31-52 48-426
Passing Yards 79 58
Comp-Att-Int 7-9-2 9-20-0
Punts-Avg. 6-29.1 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 10-103 9-56
rushing — Tiffin Calvert, Long 14-46, Kwiat 11-8, Puesey 3-8, Ball 2-(minus-2), Elchert 1-(-8). McComb, Brown 22-243, C. Wilson 10-95, Dysert 6-59, Buck 5-16, Gibson 2-5, Auchmuty 1-5, Harris 1-4, team 1-(-1).
passing — Tiffin Calvert, Long 9-19-0-58, Elchert 0-1-0-0. McComb, 5-7-2-54, Brown 2-2-0-25.
receiving — Tiffin Calvert, Herzog 3-30, Warnement 3-5, Elchert 2-18, Thompson 1-8. McComb, Schroeder 4-54, C. Wilson 2-16, Brown 1-9.