Clayton Ratcliff, Contributor
CHILLICOTHE — What a difference a week can make.
Chillicothe (5-2) squared off with Miami Trace on Friday for the second time in two weeks. In the first meeting, the Cavaliers defeated Miami Trace by a 44-3 final.
This go-around, however, was a completely different story.
The biggest storyline of the night was Chillicothe only having 18 players due to COVID-19 restrictions. Some of the notable players that the Cavaliers had to play without were quarterback Kam Smith, wide receiver Joel Barnes, and kicker Jacob Coffland — who kicked a game-winning 42-yard field goal last week in double overtime to beat Jackson by a 30-27 score.
Miami Trace, on the other hand, had multiple players back for this game that were unable to play in the previous matchup. Regardless of the circumstances, of course, it’s always difficult to beat the same team twice in one season, especially twice in two weeks.
The Panthers (4-3) got their revenge, ending the Cavaliers’ playoff run, 27-14.
Friday was Chillicothe’s first playoff appearance since 2017 and Miami Trace’s first since 2014.
Chillicothe graced the scoreboard first. With 5:23 left in the first quarter, Maxwell Lee carried the ball in from two yards out. After the two-point conversion failed, Chillicothe had a 6-0 lead. Fast forward a few minutes later, with 1:26 left in first, MT’s Weston Melvin found Josh Gilmore for a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, 6-6, after a failed two-point try of their own.
All the scoring in the second quarter came with 3:13 left when Jaiden Cain scored from a yard out. The two-point try, this time, was good and the Cavaliers had a 14-6 lead. But following the touchdown, the Panthers had the ball for the rest of the first half. With just seven seconds left, Melvin found Gilmore open again, logging a 27-yard touchdown toss and cutting the deficit to 14-13 at halftime.
Most of the third consisted of multiple penalty flags, called on both squads, including several unsportsmanlike conduct calls. With 2:38 left, Melvin tallied his third touchdown of the evening, hitting Hunter McBee for a 28-yard strike. Going into the fourth quarter, the Panthers led 20-14.
With 6:54 remaining in the game, the Panthers scored scored again … this time on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Melvin to Gilmore. Down 27-14, Chillicothe attempted to piece together scoring drives but was ultimately unable to do so, ending the season with a loss at Herrnstein Fied.
Melvin ended the night 11-of-20 passing for 201 yards alongside four touchdowns and an interception. Gilmore’s night consisted of seven catches for 151 yards and three scores while Jayden LeBeau carried the ball 21 times for 151 yards.
For Chillicothe, Cain finished 11-of-19 passing for 106 yards while Tylin Scaled tallied 19 carries for 158 yards. Logan Snowden had five catches for 53 yards and Keyon Williams added five catches for 52 yards.
The Cavaliers end their season as the Frontier Athletic Conference champions while the Panthers advance to play in a second-round playoff game at London next Friday.