MARION — The unbeaten streak continues for East Knox as the KMAC champions won the Division VI regional final here Friday night, topping a pesky Carey squad 32-21.
The 13-0 Bulldogs advance to play New Middletown Springfield, also 13-0 after beating Mogadore 35-21, in next weekend’s state semifinal contest.
“This is huge for us; for our school and community, to be 13 and 0 and win the regional championship,” head coach Cody Reese said after the game.
Once again — as was the case last week — it wasn’t easy as East Knox rallied from a 21-7 third-quarter deficit to win.
“Our kids believe in each other and love each other and that was the difference,” Reese said.
East Knox went ahead 7-0 on a Caleb Gallwitz 1-yard run in the first quarter. But the Blue Devils, who finish at 7-6, rallied to tie the game with 2:03 left in the half on a Connor Williams 2-yard touchdown.
Gallwitz, who finished with 112 yards rushing and 93 receiving, brought the crowd to its feet with an electrifying 75-yard scoring run late in the game to seal the win.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big games,” Reese said of the effort.
Taking an errant high snap, Gallwitz eluded several defenders, cut back and raced to the end zone with 4:15 remaining in the game.
“They were taking away the run, so we had to spread it out, move him around in order to get the football in his hands, and that’s what we did,” Reese said.
Carey had gone ahead by two scores when Anthony Bell scored from 8 yards out with 7:19 left in the third quarter. But a quick drive and a 10-yard scoring pass from Kadden Lester to Weston Melick on a slant cut it to 21-14.
Gallwitz returned a punt 31 yards to the Carey 8 after East Knox held the Blue Devils at the 5-yard-line. After a yard loss to the 9, Gallwitz ran in for the score and a 21-20 lead with two minutes left in the third.
An interception by linebacker Gage Steinmetz stopped the next Carey drive. From there Gallwitz went 61 yards on a reception for a score as East Knox regained the lead at 26-21.
“To do this for the first time in school history … it’s great to be a Bulldog,” Steinmetz said.
‘Dogs QB Kadden Lester hit on 8-of-14 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
The other semi-final game pits Anna against Mechanicsburg. Anna beat Archbold 42-7 and Mechanicsburg downed Covington 42-26.