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Shadyside Routs River In Semi-Finals 42-9

By Rick Loy - Staff Writer | Nov 4, 2020

The River Pilots quarterback Brody Lollathin sees daylight that his teammates open for him for positive yardage.

The battle in the Ohio Division VII, Region 27, semi-finals at Flannery Field, October 30th, between the host River Pilots and Shadyside Tigers was billed to be a dog fight for the right to play in the OHSAA Championship game next week. The two teams met on the same turf in week six with the Tigers hanging on for a 27-25 victory in a hard-fought game.

Coach Mark Holenka’s Tigers came into the game prepared and pulled away from the Pilots to advance against Newark Catholic next week in the Division VII, Region 27, Championship game. Catholic beat Trimble 35-19 to advance to the regional finals.

The Pilots received the opening kickoff with Senior speedster Michael Johnson returning it to the hosts own 33 yard-line to start the initial drive of the game. On first down Carter Dennis took handoff from QB Brody Lollathin and the Tigers defense set the tone for the night holding him to no gain. The visitors held River to three and out with a punt from their own 41. Jake Rose got off a short punt to set Shadyside up at their own 42.

River defense stopped Jacob Visnic for no gain on a first down run. Talented Junior quarterback Rhys Francis went for four-yard gain on second down and on third down dropped back and threw a perfect spiral to Mason VanNest for a 54-yard TD pass. VanNest added the point after kick at 8:33 left in first stanza to go up 7-0.

After both teams traded punts, River got ball from a Joesph punt out of bounds at the 50-yard line to start the next series of downs. Lollathin on a QB keeper picked up two stripes and kept the ball on a second down run for seven more yards to the Tigers 41-yard line. Dennis with four straight runs of 5, 9, 2, and 17 yards to place the ball on the Shadyside eight-yard line. Coach Flannery’s team had first and goal from the eight but ended up settling for a Zac Hocutt 31-yard field goal with eleven seconds left in first quarter to make the score 7-3 the Tigers.

Shadyside’s next series of downs would end on a Wyatt Reiman fumble recovered by the Pilot’s Jake Rose on the host 34-yard line. Johnson picked up one-yard on first down, an incomplete pass by Lollathin on second down, Lollathin hooked up with Rose for a 31-yard pass to the visitors 34-yard line. Lollathin threw an interception in the end zone on the next play by Jordan Joesph to set the Tigers up at their 20-yard line.

The Pilots would force a Tigers punt from VanNest to the River 43-yard line with a fair catch by Johnson. The Pilots Dennis picked up nine yards on two totes to set up third and one, but Dennis was held to no gain, on the fourth down and one, Dennis took the handoff and the Shadyside defense stood tall throwing the Senior All-Ohio Back/Linebacker for a two-yard loss to turn the ball back over to the visitors.

Tigers would take over ball on the 50-yard line with the River defense sacking Francis for a three-yard loss on first down. VanNest took a pitch from Francis and picked up five-yards on second down to set the ball on the Pilots 48-yard line. On third down Francis hit Visnic with a short pass that he carried the 48-yards to the end zone down the sidelines for the score. VanNest added point after kick at 3:48 till halftime to put his Tigers up 14-3.

River would start the next drive on their own 40 after a short kickoff from the Tigers. After a nice 11-yard pass from Lollathin to Chase Lawrence and a no gain by Lollathin on second down, the Pilots QB would throw a pick six by the Tigers Francis for 58-yards and the score. VanNest added the PAT at 2:17 left till the break to put Tigers up 21-3.

The Pilots were unable to mount a drive against the Tigers stiff defense that kept the potent River offense in check all night and had to punt the ball back to the visitors.

Shadyside was moving the ball down into River territory until the defense broke through the line and sacked Francis for a big loss. On the last play before halftime Lollathin picked off a Francis pass to end the visitors drive and go into the locker-room down 21-3.

The second half started with the Tigers, after a Pilots kickoff were backed up deep in their own territory facing a third and nineteen, QB Francis hooked up with VanNest on a 34-yard pass for the first down. The Pilots sidelines were upset with a missed offensive pass interference call on the play and was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and another one on the next play to give the visitors 30 yards to place the ball at the Pilots 13-yard line. Francis would run for nine yards and Visnic covered the final four yards to paydirt. VanNest kick after was true to make the score at 9:28 in third quarter 28-3 in favor of the victorious Tigers.

River’s Brody Lollathin would score on a 51-yard jaunt at 7:26 in the third but a blocked extra point made the score 28-9 and would be the only score the rest of the game for the Pilots.

Shadyside rode the running of Reiman and Visnic the rest of the game to add two more TD’s. Visnic went in from six yards out and VanNest kick at 4:53 left in third quarter to go up 35-9.

Reiman would tack on the final score of the game at 6:07 in the final frame with a four-yard run and VanNest kick after was good sending the Tigers to the OHSAA Division VII, Region 27, Championship game in convincing fashion with a 42-9 victory.

“They have a lot of weapons. They played very well tonight,” River head coach Mike Flannery said of the Tigers. “I just hate to see this group of seniors that I’ve had for four years leave because you establish a bond with them that you can’t explain if you’re not a coach to the general public. They do not understand the relationships. You hate to see them go, but everything comes to an end.

Flannery said he wishes the best for Shadyside.

“I hope they go and represent our region very well. I have got a lot of respect for them and their coaching staff. I think they will give Newark Catholic everything they want.”

Shadyside was led by Reiman picking up 129 yards on 21 carries, Visnic picked up 44 stripes on eight totes. Francis finished with 32 yards on nine carries and connected on four passes on 11 attempts for 149 yards. VanNest caught two passes for 92 stripes. The Tigers defense was stiff the whole game keeping the Pilots in check for the most part.

Lollathin led the Pilots with 66 rushing yards on nine carries. Carter Dennis had 51 yards on 15 totes. Lollathin completed five passes on 15 attempts for 64 yards but was picked off three times, twice by Francis.

Congrats to Coach Flannery and the River Pilots on their fine run in the OHSAA playoffs. Best wishes to the seniors moving forward in the future.

Good luck to Coach Holenka and the Shadyside Tigers in the Regional Championship game. Bring the hardware back to the Ohio Valley.