Carrollton survives 21-13 against Marion-Franklin, advances to third round

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Warrior defenders Josh Knipp (53) and Nick Jones (76) take down the Columbus Marion-Franklin quarterback.

By Carol McIntire


Survival is the only thing that matters when post season tournament time rolls around: teams survive to play another week.

Saturday night on the south side of Columbus, the Carrollton Warriors survived against a strong, physical Marion-Franklin team and advanced in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV football tournament with a 21-13 victory.

“This is tournament football,” Warrior Coach Jim Tsilimos told his team following the game. “What happened tonight is tournament football. You survived and that is all that matters. We won.”

Tsilimos knows about tournament football. He won a state championship at Lisbon. Now he is leading the Warriors as they navigate the playoffs.

With the win Saturday, the Warriors made history: the first time a CHS football team has won two playoff games. They are looking to extend that streak this Saturday when they travel back to the Columbus area to take on Bloom-Carroll.

“We had some breakdowns, missed some blocks,” he noted following the contest. “Yeah, we need to get better, each week the teams get better. You have to survive: figure out how you can win and the kids figured out how to win.”

Marion-Franklin set the test for the Warriors early, scoring on the third play of the game – a two-yard touchdown by Israel Alexander. With the extra point, they led 7-0 with less than a minute off the game clock.

The Warriors found a way to tie the contest on their first possession.

On the second play of the drive, quarterback Luke Warner found Austin Haney open for a 45-yard catch and run to the Red Devil’s 15-yard line. Backfield workhorse Chase Oehlstom, who scored all three Warrior touchdowns, ground out yardage to the 1-yard line on five carries and then went the final yard for the score on the eighth play of the drive.

Senior Oscar Cazares sent the kick through the uprights to tie the score.

The Warriors extended the lead to 14-7 on their first possession of the third quarter with a drive that was nearly identical to the first score.

Zach Martin returned the second half kickoff to the Carrollton 43-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Warner connected with Brock Smith for a pass play on the 15-yard line. Nick Martin ground out four yards on first down, Warner added nine to the 3-yard line and Oehlstrom found a hole in the middle of the line for the touchdown. Cazares’ kick was good.

Carrollton extended the lead to 21-7 with just over five minutes in the contest on a 60-yard drive that was aided by two Red Devil penalties. A flag for a facemask moved the ball to the Marion-Franklin 44-yard line on the first play of the drive. Joey Beard picked up three yards on the next play and an unsportsmanlike conduct flag advanced the ball to the 13-yard line. Warner and Oehlstrom took over and ground out the final 13 yards. Oehlstrom scored from the 4-yard line with 5:10 remaining in the contest. Cazares added the extra point to stretch the margin to 21-7.

The playoff-experienced Red Devils, as noted the by the numerous years they qualified for the state playoffs and advanced to the regional finals printed on the score board, weren’t finished yet.

Less than two minutes and six plays later, the Red Devils scored. On one of the biggest plays of the game, Cazares came rushing off the end of he line and blocked the kick.

The intensity level rose in the stadium when Marion-Franklin, trailing 21-13, forced Carrollton to punt, setting up the hosts with a first down on the CHS 40-yard line with 1:36 left on the clock. 

A sack by Cazares on a third-and-20-play sealed the victory for the Warriors.

“Oscar blocking that kick was big,” Tsilimos said. “He’s a player and he’s done a really great job this year for us. He plays both sides of the ball. He makes a difference on defense because he gets in the backfield.” Cazares also recovered two fumbles.

The battle was as close on paper as it was on the field. The Warriors piled up 271 yards of total offense compared to 245 for Marion-Franklin and executed 60 plays compared to 49 for the hosts.

Warner completed eight of 20 passes for 157 yards. Timberlake caught three of those passes for 67 yards.

The visitors rushed for 114 yards, led by Oehlstrom with 103 yards on 28 carries.

Defensively, Zach Martin was credited with 5.5. tackles, three solo and five assists.

Jayden Lacey had five tackles, three solo and four assists and Joey Beard had 4.5 tackles, three solo and three assists.

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