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December 5, 2012

Watkins captures Ohio state championship

Northwestern running back commitment Keith Watkins ran for 68 yards and caught eight passes for 76 yards and a touchdown to help Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller capture the Ohio Division I state championship with a 20-12 win over Toledo Whitmer last Saturday.

It wasn't Watkins's best game -- he needed 22 carries to earn those 68 hard-fought yards and it was just the second time he was held to less than 100 yards this season -- but it was undoubtedly his most memorable, as Moeller ended its drought and returned to the throne of Ohio football in front of 8,834 fans at Canton's Fawcett Stadium.

It was the eighth state championship for the Crusaders, but first since 1985.

"It's just an honor," said Watkins. "We haven't been here in a long time. It's tremendous that we just won state. It's really unbelievable."

Whitmer jumped on top 6-0 after an 80-yard drive on its first possession that was capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Nick Holley to Michael Dzikowski.

"It was like we expected," Moeller coach John Rodenberg said. "We knew we had to stop the run tonight, so we packed the box. We forced them to throw. The first 14 plays, they threw seven. They hit that bubble screen and really hurt us. We had to extend it a little bit and get tougher."

Moeller answered a 67-yard march of its own but had to settle for a 20-yard Matt Reininger field goal with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

The Crusaders took control in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns off of Whitmer turnovers to go into the locker room at halftime with a 17-6.

The first TD was a six-yard pass from quarterback Spencer Iacovone to Watkins on third-and-goal. Logan Kelleher then intercepted a Holley pass at the Moeller 29 to set up a 12-play drive that ended with Iacovone scoring on a one-yard plunge.

The second-half was a defensive struggle as Moeller managed just a 22-yard Reininger field goal with 1:54 to play. That turned out to be enough, however, as the Crusader defense held high-powered and previously undefeated Whitmer to its lowest point total of the season.

"We saved the best for last and that's just great," Rodenberg said of his defense. "We had a young defense that grew up. We got a little tougher. We bent a lot, but didn't break tonight."

Iacovone completed 15-of-19 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown, while adding 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

Whitmer was led by Holley, who ran 23 times for 92 yards, and was 12-of-20 passing for 196 yards passing.

Moeller finished 12-3 on the year.



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