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OHSAA Division I Regional Final – Hilliard Bradley 35, Upper Arlington 28

Photo by Joel Speyer

The OHSAA Division I Region 3 Final was a matchup between the Hilliard Bradley Jaguars and the Upper Arlington Golden Bears. The game was held at a neutral site, Historic Crew Stadium with hundreds in attendance. This playoff game was a rematch from earlier in the season; the two teams met back on September 22nd; a game that saw the Jaguars escape with a 24-22 victory.

Photo by Joel Speyer

Hilliard Bradley is the #2 seed in Region 3 and the Jaguars have a record of 12-1 entering this contest, including the win against UA earlier this season. The Jaguars advanced to the Regional Finals by shutting out Pickerington North 19-0 last weekend. Hilliard Bradley is coached by Mike LoParo. On the field the Jags are led by senior quarterback Bradyn Fleharty who wears #1. Fleharty has accounted for 30 touchdowns this season, a Hilliard Bradley school record.

Upper Arlington came into this Regional Final seeded 4th with a record of 11-3. Last week, the Golden Bears upset #1 seed Gahanna Lincoln 12-7 in the Regional Semifinals to advance to this game. Upper Arlington is coached by Justin Buttermore, currently in his 4th year coaching the Golden Bears. The Upper Arlington offense goes through powerhouse running back Connor McClellan, a six-foot, 200-pound senior wearing #22. McClellan has accumulated over 1,000 rushing yards this year, running straight up the middle.

The first three possessions resulted in punts. Upper Arlington received the opening kickoff and neither team could do much with the ball. After UA’s second punt, the Jaguars started the drive at the Golden Bear 35-yard line. Hilliard managed seven yards in three plays and went for it on 4th down. On 4th-and-3 from the 28-yard line, Fleharty connected with senior wide receiver #13 Denis Shishlo for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, but the Jaguars had the lead at 6-0 with 3:46 left in the first quarter.

It took Upper Arlington just over 2 minutes to even the score when McClellan broke free for a 26-yard touchdown run. The TD run was set up by a long pass from junior QB #14 Kyle Cox to senior WR #3 Austin Stutz. The extra point was good, giving the Golden Bears a 7-6 lead with 1:36 remaining in the first quarter.

In the early second quarter, Hilliard Bradley drove turned the ball over on downs in Upper Arlington territory, and UA drove the ball to the Hilliard Bradley 21-yard line. Upper Arlington attempted a field goal was missed, and the score remained 7-6.

The Jags got the ball back at their 21-yard line, and Fleharty ripped off a long run into Upper Arlington territory. However, on the next play Fleharty threw an interception. The pass was picked off by senior linebacker #11 Cam Baker at the UA 34-yard line.

Upper Arlington moved the ball to their 49-yard line, and McClellan struck again from long distance. McClellan ran through the right side of the line and then broke the run outside and took it to the house from 51 yards out for his second touchdown of the game. The extra point made the score 14-6 Golden Bears in front.

There was no more scoring in the second quarter and the teams went into the locker room with the score 14-6 Upper Arlington over Hillard Bradley. Hilliard tied the score mid-way through the third quarter. The Jags drove the ball to the Upper Arlington 1-yard line and junior RB #5 Jack Whitmore punched it in. Fleharty completed a pass to senior TE #0 Samuel Green for the 2-point conversion, bringing the score to 14-14.

The game remained tied into the fourth quarter. With 8:13 left, Hilliard Bradley retook the lead on an electrifying 61-yard touchdown run by Fleharty after scrambling in the backfield. The point after was good the Jaguars took a 21-14 advantage into the final minutes of regulation.

Hilliard Bradley was nursing their lead and got the ball back with 2:18 to go and an opportunity to run out the clock. It wasn’t to be. Upper Arlington kept the Jags from a first down and used all three timeouts to force a punt. Upper Arlington took over from the Jaguars’ 49-yard line with less than two minutes to go.

Golden Bear quarterback completed passes to senior WR #80 Joe Matre, and sophomore WR #9 Trent Wolpert, and senior WR #6 Sam Tongol, taking the ball all the way down to the Jaguars’ 9-yard line. Cox finished the drive by completing a touchdown pass to Tongol. The PAT was good and Upper Arlington tied the game at 21-21 with 43 seconds to go. 

Hilliard Bradley took a knee and we’re going to overtime!  

Both teams scored on their first overtime possession. Starting the drive from the Hilliard Bradley 20, Upper Arlington RB McClellan punched it in from three yards out for his third touchdown of the game. Hilliard Bradley scored a touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 6 on a pass from Fleharty to senior WR #6 Preston Wolfe. Both PATs were good, and the teams were tied at 28 after the first overtime period. 

Hilliard Bradley got the ball first in the second overtime period, starting from the UA 20-yard line. After several plays got Hilliard Bradley down to the 3, Jags quarterback Fleharty ran the ball up the middle on a keeper and scored a touchdown. 

The PAT was good giving Hilliard Bradley a 35-28 advantage. Fleharty was injured on the play but was able to leave the field under his own power. It was Fleharty’s 4th touchdown of the game, 2 rushing and 2 passing.

Upper Arlington got the ball at the Hilliard Bradley 20-yard-line for their overtime possession, but they were unable to score. When the game ended, the Jags’ celebration was on. 

Hilliard Bradley is in the Division I State Semifinals!


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