TROTWOOD — The Tippecanoe High School football team is heading to state semifinals for the first time in program history.
Liam Poronsky threw for 192 yards and two touchdown passes, rushed for another 70 yards and got some key plays from his defense as the Red Devils knocked off top-ranked Badin 20-17 to secure a Division III, Region 12 championship at Trotwood-Madison on Friday.
“We’ve never done this before,” Tippecanoe coach Matt Burgbacher said. “I’ve got to go celebrate with the team.”
Tippecanoe (13-1) will face Bloom-Carroll — a 33-28 winner over Columbus Bishop Watterson — in the state semifinals at London’s Bowlus Field on Friday, Nov. 25.
Badin (13-1) lost for just the second time dating back to the start of last season. The Rams fell to Chardon in the state championship game last year.
“Great game. That’s a good football team — credit to them,” Badin coach Nick Yordy said. “I think we played decent, but not great. We missed a couple of opportunities in the red zone, and you can’t do that. It was a game of missed opportunities. But the kids played hard, and they did everything we asked them to do.”
Badin and Tippecanoe traded field goals in the first quarter. Jackson Kleather knocked through a 42-yarder to give the Red Devils a 3-0 lead on the opening drive of the game.
The Rams’ Nick Warner booted a 30-yard field goal with 8:04 left in the first quarter to tie it at 3-3.
“You lost 19 starters from last year’s team, you really don’t know what you have,” Burgbacher said. “But after Week 1, we knew. And the one thing that I can guarantee everybody is that when we go out and play, we’re going to leave it all on the line.”
Carter Russo found the end zone from 4 yards out, and a Warner extra point gave Badin a 10-3 lead with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.
Russo finished with 140 yards on 32 carries.
Poronsky later connected with Lucas Merry for a 28-yard touchdown, and Kleather’s extra point knotted it up at 10-10 with 9:52 remaining in the first half.
Cael Liette halted a Badin drive by sacking Rams quarterback Alex Ritzie on a third-and-goal opportunity, forcing a field goal the Red Devils blocked. That kept the score at 10-10 heading into the break.
“I tell you what, we had a ton of kids who stepped up tonight,” Burgbacher said. “That’s our football team. Every game it’s been somebody different.”
Ritzie connected with Austin Buckle, who weaved his way for a 19-yard TD. Warner’s PAT gave Badin a 17-10 advantage with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
Tippecanoe quickly struck back when Poronsky hit Evan Liette on a 32-yard touchdown pass, and Kleather’s extra point tied it back up at 17-17 with 2 seconds left in the third.
Kleather booted a 24-yard field goal to give the Red Devils the lead with 3:16 left to play, and Tippecanoe’s defense held its own to close it out.
“These seniors had only lost three games, and one of them was in the state championship,” Yordy said. “I don’t think everyone expected for us to be where we were at this year after losing all those guys, so credit to those seniors and this team for battling all year long.”
Badin and Tippecanoe squared off only one time before Friday’s meeting — a 35-14 Rams’ win in the postseason on Nov. 24, 2020.
Ritzie threw for 282 yards and a score, and Braedyn Moore caught 13 passes for 125 yards for Badin. Josh Dietz had a game-high 11.5 tackles for Tippecanoe.