La Salle wins D2 state title

Published 2:32 am Friday, December 2, 2016

COLUMBUS (AP) — Tre’Sean Smith is a defensive back first and running back second for Cincinnati La Salle in most instances.

That was the case Thursday in the Division II state football championship at Ohio Stadium when he had no carries and the Lancers trailed Massillon Perry 7-0 at halftime.

In the second half, he had 124 yards on 17 rushes and the two touchdowns that gave LaSalle a 14-7 victory for a third straight title.

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Smith scored on a 12-yard run with 3:46 left in the game Thursday to secure it. His run to the right pylon completed a six-play, 65-yard drive for the 13-2 Lancers, who beat the 12-3 Perry 42-0 in last year’s title game.

“I ran the plays coach called,” Smith said. “Shout-outs to our O-line. They were really in the trenches. They did their job.”

Perry, seeking its first title, took a 7-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter when Dominick Brown intercepted a Griffin Merritt pass and went untouched 17 yards.

“We felt they didn’t respect us,” Perry coach Keith Wakefield said. “Our guys came to play. They weren’t intimidated. They were ready to play.”

La Salle had only 23 yards of offense, all on the ground, in the first quarter but in the second had a sustained drive deep into Perry territory. But personal fouls on consecutive plays and a quarterback sack left the Lancers facing a third-and-36 from their 43.

Merritt tried a deep ball down the middle but Tevion Cleveland made the interception at the Perry 29 and returned it 21 yards to the 50.

La Salle pounded out a 12-play, 84-yard drive that consumed 5:15 to tie the score at 7 with 2:53 left in the third quarter. Smith had a 33-yard run before his 3-yard scoring run.

Perry went for it on fourth-and-5 at the Lancers’ 35 with six minutes left in the game but a pass by quarterback Max Baker to Cleveland at the 5 was a yard too long.

“We couldn’t muster any offense,” Wakefield said. “We struggled with that all year but we played great defense against them.”