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Two weeks ago, Chillicothe dominated Miami Trace 44-3. Last week, the Cavaliers were celebrating a Frontier Athletic Conference Championship in a double overtime victory over Jackson.
But the Regional Playoff game on October 9th at The O belonged to the Panthers, rallying from a halftime deficit of 14-13 to win 27-14. The win advances Miami Trace to face London next Friday night.
Chillicothe was playing shorthanded after a Junior Varsity player tested positive for COVID-19 mid-week. That placed 39 players into quarantine protocol, leaving the Cavs with just 19 players to dress for the game.
In the previous meeting, Miami Trace was hampered without starters Jayden LeBeau (RB) and Josh Gilmore (WR). Both were injured the week before against Jackson, but they were instrumental with a second opportunity to face Chillicothe.
Despite being short on players, Chillicothe got off to a good start and took a 14-6 lead. Jaiden Cain, playing quarterback for the first time since the 2019 opener at Teays Valley, was pressed into action after QBs Kamron Smith and Mason Doughty were both quarantined, leaving Cain to get caught up in a hurry.
Maxwell Lee plunged into the end zone with 5:23 left in the 1st quarter to get the scoring started. Without place-kickers, the Cavs went for two-point conversions when they had the opportunity. The first attempt failed and Chillicothe led 6-0.
Miami Trace tied the score on a pass by Weston Melvin, the first of his four scoring passes on the night. Three of those went to Gilmore, including the game tying touchdown from five yards out. The Panthers PAT failed to knot the score at 6 through the first quarter.
Scales had a 37-yard run inside the Miami Trace five. Cain crossed the goal line on a keeper to put Chillicothe and Scales followed with the 2-point PAT ahead 14-6.
Miami Trace pinned the Cavaliers back to their 1 yard line forcing a punt from their end zone. Gilmore return the kick to the Chillicothe 27. Melvin connected with Gilmore again just before the half. Zach Warnock’s PAT pulled the Panthers to within 14-13.
Late in the third period, Melvin scrambled left and found Hunter McBee on the sideline for a 28-yard touchdown pass and with 2:38 remaining Miami Trace led for the first time, 20-14.
The Panthers dashed any possibility of a Cavaliers come back bid with a 67-yard strike from Melvin to Gilmore for a 27-14 lead with just 6:54 left in the game.
Melvin completed 11-of-20 passes for 201 yards and four TD passes. Gilmore (151 yards receiving) and LeBeau (154 yards rushing) were the workhorses for Miami Trace. Cain was 11-of-19 for 106 yards and Scales rolled to 158 yards on 19 carries.
The Panthers (4-3) will travel to London next Friday in the next round of the Regional Playoffs. The Cavaliers (5-2) may have more football to play. Coach Doug Pryor confirmed Chillicothe is negotiating for some regular season action. The OHSAA modifications for football (due to the pandemic) gives schools a chance for more games after the playoffs, until the week of November 15th.