Badin falls to Chardon in matchup of state’s top two teams: “It was a great game’

Rams tie game twice but give up late go-ahead score in 21-14 loss

CANTON — A beautiful orange sky hung over Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the second half of the Division III state championship game Friday afternoon. It did not inspire either offense as the Badin Rams and Chardon Hilltoppers exchanged punt after punt.

» PHOTOS: Badin vs. Chardon

Chardon scored on its first drive of the game and then punted four times and then punted four straight times after scoring on its first drive of the second half. Badin punted four times before tying the game in the second quarter and then punted four times after tying the game again in the third quarter.

In all, each team punted eight teams, and it was a short punt by Badin late in the game that led to go-ahead score by Chardon, which won its second championship in a row, beating Badin 21-14.

“It was a great game,” Badin coach Nick Yordy said. “It’s what you would expect between the No. 1 team and the No. 2 team in the state of Ohio in Division III. Those guys are well coached. Unbelievable defense. Those guys played really hard, and they’re really, really good, but credit to our guys, too. I think we played a heck of a game, and in a big game like that, it comes down to a handful of plays. I think there were a handful of plays that could have really flipped that game the other way.”

The game flipped Chardon’s way in the final four minutes. An ineligible receiver penalty followed by an intentional grounding penalty forced Badin to punt from the end zone. After a 26-yard punt, Chardon took over at the Badin 29-yard line with 3:13 to play.

The Hilltoppers needed four plays to take the lead. Sean Carr scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:05 to play.

Badin got the ball back with 1:01 to play but couldn’t muster a serious drive. The game ended on an interception by Chardon’s Heath Fetchik in the final seconds.

Chardon outgained Badin 233-143. The teams combined for 103 passing yards. Both teams leaned on their run games.

Jack Walsh led Badin with 96 yards on 27 carries and scored the game-tying touchdown on a 2-yard run with 2:17 left in the first half. Carter Russo had only one rushing attempt but scored on a 6-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 with 6:33 left in the third.

That would be Badin’s last threat. It did not gain a first down on its last five drives as it fell short of winning the program’s second state championship and first since 1990.

The Rams finished the season 14-1, while Chardon capped its second straight perfect season and won its third state championship.

“These kids just completed the first ever 16-0 season,” Chardon coach Mitch Hewitt said. “There were a ton of question marks to start the year. We didn’t return many from a great senior class, and they just won 28 straight. It’s remarkable. It’ll take weeks to digest what these kids did.”

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