DAYTON — For the first time since 2009, Elder’s headed back to week 13 of the playoffs for a big-time bout with Colerain (which cruised to a 42-14 win vs. St. Xavier on Saturday).
Elder (9-3) demolished Hilliard Darby (9-3) 41-13 in a Division I, Region 2 quarterfinal Saturday night at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.
“We felt like going in we were a better football team,” said Elder coach Doug Ramsey. “We (thought) we’re a little bigger, a little more athletic — which we can’t say that too often — and our guys just did what they were supposed to do. We took the first drive, I think it was a 17-play drive, but we score, take control and then our defense goes out right away and gets a stop and then we score again. We felt like if we can get up a couple touchdowns on them that we’d be in really good shape.”
Elder, the No. 5 seed, came away with touchdowns on each of its first six drives. Darby didn’t stop Elder until after the Panthers made substitutions midway through the fourth quarter.
It was clear the Panthers weren’t ready for the ride to be over this year. In the process of dismantling Darby, the No. 13 seed, Elder senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey did what he’s done for the last three years under center. The Indiana commit, who only played three and a half quarters, rushed 15 times for 119 yards, three touchdowns and completed 15 of 19 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
“That’s the thing, it’s the last thing I say to them before we run out and pray: Let’s play well so we can do it again,” Doug Ramsey said. “Hopefully I get to say it a few more times until I can’t say it anymore. That’s what it’s about now. You just gotta find a way to win because it’s too much fun now for it to come to an end.”
Ramsey wasn’t the only one to give Darby fits. Elder controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. Darby’s triple option offense managed just 212 yards of offense (138 through three quarters). Elder totaled 386 yards of total offense and played a balanced brand of offense.
“The whole team has contributed,” said Peyton. “That’s why it’s so fun. Because everybody’s out here competing. It’s not just one guy. I’m looking forward to continuing this and keeping it going.”
Peyton continued, “We said we needed to be able to establish the run game. And we did that. We were able to throw the ball, too. Balance, it hurts teams. When you’ve got two guys who can run the ball and a bunch of guys who can catch the ball we can really hurt people.”
The Panthers went into the locker room at halftime with a 28-6 lead. In the first half, Ramsey had three rushing touchdowns and a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior Robby Oswald.
To start the scoring in the second half, Ramsey hit Nick Hall for a 36-yard touchdown on fourth-and-11. After senior defensive back Ben Allison intercepted Darby’s Nick Powers, Ja’Vahri Portis put the final nail in the coffin with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
Elder limited Darby’s standout quarterback to 99 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 attempts.
Oswald finished with eight catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Hall caught five balls for 90 yards and a score. Portis finished with 88 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.
Coach Ramsey concluded, “You think about this team, I think we were picked last in the league and we win, co-champs. We’re the last DI GCL team still standing. We’ve gotten things done that we wanted to do. We wanted to make a run and now we’ve got an opportunity against a great team next Saturday.”
Since a 14-0 loss to Winton Woods in week 8, the Panthers have won four in a row. The last time Elder and Colerain met was in 2012 when the Cardinals won 35-34 in overtime in the second round of the playoffs.
“Looks like we’re playing Colerain,” said Doug. “Our guys will be excited. I have not seen them play but I know it’s gonna be a great challenge. I know they’re really good. We’ll have to be ready to go. The excitement of that, it takes us back. It’s been awhile since we’ve been in a regional final game.”
Hilliard Darby 0-6-0-7 – 13
Elder 7-21-6-7 – 41
E – Ramsey 2 run (Onorato kick)
E – Ramsey 11 run (Onorato kick)
D – Powers 2 run (kick blocked)
E – Ramsey 36 run (Onorato kick)
E – Oswald 2 pass from Ramsey (Onorato kick)
E – Hall 32 pass from Ramsey (pass failed)
E – Portis 4 run (Onorato kick)
D – Colvin 16 run (Sawicki kick)
Records: E 9-3, D 9-3