By Greg Gulas
Football opponents of Crestview High know what is coming from the Rebels — a high-octane, fast-paced offense engineered by senior quarterback Collin Gilbert which chews up yardage and puts plenty of points on the scoreboard.
But the Rebels went to something different with the game on the line in the second half of their 27-26 win in a Division V, Region 15 semifinal Saturday night against Gilmour Academy at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Green Street Stadium.
After falling behind for the first time, 26-20, following a 13-play, 93-yard scoring drive by the Lancers, Crestview regained the lead for good one play later when Gilbert ran 69 yards for a touchdown at the 6:24 mark of the quarter on a seldom-used play.
“On Collin’s touchdown run in the third period, it was a play we hadn’t run in five or six years,” Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. “It was a speed option off jet motion that he ran to perfection.”
Gilbert finished with 230 yards rushing and 189 yards passing as the Rebels advanced to face Akron Manchester in the regional final on Saturday night. The site of that contest will be announced today.
“Collin is a gamer who needs to lead us and he did just that tonight,” Cusick said. “He is a warrior and our kids believe in him.”
“We knew that Gilmour Academy was a good team so all week long we worked on the little things,” Gilbert said. “We have our system that we run and just tweaked a few things here and there and our offensive line played a great game. All night long they opened up holes for all the backs to run through.”
Six of Gilbert’s nine completions went to senior tight end Josh McDade for 124 yards.
“We’re doing this for coach Cusick, he deserves this,” McDade said. “He’s never been past the regional final and we want to do that for him this year.”
The Rebels (11-1) are making their 12th playoff appearance overall, their sixth in a row and their ninth in the last 10 years. Crestview’s best finish was a loss to Kirtland in the regional final in 2011.
Following Gilbert’s third-quarter touchdown Caleb McGath tacked on the decisive extra point. He made three of four kicks on the night for the Rebels, while Gilmour’s Connor Lesko was two-for-four.
“We missed two extra points tonight and it came back to haunt us, but that’s an area that has been pretty good for us all season long,” Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and so did Crestview. Credit them, they are an excellent ball club.”
The game featured 137 plays from scrimmage and 876 yards, including 566 in the first half. Three times during the back-and-forth contest two touchdowns were scored within a 20-second time span.
Rodell Golphin led Gilmour (9-3) with 230 yards rushing.
“Our defense stepped it up tonight,” Cusick said. “They popped some big plays and we beat a good team. We had some opportunities of our own that we missed.
“At halftime we made some simple adjustments and they worked.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Crestview drove 11 plays to the Lancers’ 4 but lost a fumble. Gilmour’s ensuing possession ended at its own 34 on an incompletion with 4:55 remaining in the game.
From there the Rebels ran out the clock, ending the game at the Lancers’ 9-yard-line and setting up another Crestview appearance in a regional final.