HANOVER — South Western took a relatively simple plan into Friday night’s District 3 Class 5A first-round football playoff at home and made it work.
Greencastle-Antrim could not consistently stop Mustang running back Austin Rollman — who ran 34 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns — and could not finish on their scoring opportunities.
It added up to a 21-3 win for South Western at the Mustang Corral.
The Mustangs (8-3) will play next Friday at No. 2 seed Cedar Cliff (9-1). The Blue Devils bow out of their first playoff appearance since 2011 with a 7-4 record.
“We didn’t find a way to cash in on our chances, and that’s frustrating,” G-A coach Devin McCauley said. “We had a penalty on one (potential) touchdown and dropped a pass on another. If we get those two, then it’s a real game. When you don’t score when you’re in the red zone, it’s a killer.
“We ran the ball well at times, but we needed to convert on more third downs.”
Greencastle was only 3-for-12 on third downs (SW was 5-for-9), and 1-for-5 on fourth down (the Mustangs were 1-for-2).
South Western rode the legs of Rollman to jump ahead 7-0 in the first period, with him running 6 times for 36 yards and a 17-yard touchdown run.
An interception by Trent Merillat and return to the Mustang 30 set G-A up midway through the second period. But a false start disrupted the series and QB Logan Alvey was eventually picked off by Jackson Hersh.
Five runs by Rollman, including a scoring run of 12 yards, made it 14-0.
The Blue Devils then put together their best drive of the night, taking 14 plays to get some points, ending in a 23-yard field goal by Andrew Bowers with 23 seconds left in the half. The big play was a hook-and-ladder play in which Alvey hit Carter McCauley for 12 yards and he lateraled to Xzavier Ramsey, who run to the South Western 4.
But a 3-yard loss on second down hurt the drive and they had to settle for the field goal.
South Western’s first drive of the second half produced a 48-yard run by Rollman on a third-and-2 play, and he scored from the 1 on the next carry to make it 21-3.
Greencastle had two other good chances to score. Late in the third period, G-A put together three first downs, and on fourth-and-5 from the 23, Alvey flipped a screen pass just over the defense to Ramsey who got to the Mustang 7.
On the next play, Ramsey was stopped at about the 1, when he was pushed into the end zone by a teammate. A penalty was called, knocking the Blue Devils back to the 6. Two incompletions and a loss on a running play scuttled the drive.
The Blue Devils also reached the South Western 14 midway through the fourth quarter, but a holding call derailed their chances.
G-A senior linebacker Logan Shifflett said, “They beat us on size on the line. Their defensive line was physical and fast, and their offensive line was good, especially that big center (6-4, 290-pound Colton Beck).”
McCauley said, “They were able to get some good pressure on our quarterback.”
McCauley said he thought if the teams played again, his team would have a good chance. It just didn’t work out that way Friday.
“There was a playoff atmosphere that might have slowed us early. But, it’s been a heck of a season and we really had the community behind us.”
Shifflett said, “I’m proud of how we played this year, and the way we got past a lot of adversity.”
NOTES: Blue Devil ballcarriers slipped down at least 6 times, making it very difficult to get to the outside … Mustang linebacker Ethan Rissler and DL Ayden Wysocksi helped put the heat on Alvey … Ramsey ended up with 86 yards on 14 carries.
South Western 21, Greencastle-Antrim 3
Greencastle 0 3 0 0 — 3
South Western 7 7 7 0 — 21
SW — Austin Rollman 17 run (Gavin Fraim kick), 5:29
SW — Rollman 12 run (Fraim kick), 4:50
GA — Andrew Bowers 23 field goal, 0:23
SW — Rollman 1 run (Fraim kick), 8:20
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yards 30-109 37-212
Passing 10-27-1 5-9-1
Passing yards 75 72
Total offense 184 284
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-average 3-30.3 2-28.0
Penalties-yards 6-55 2-25
Rushing — GA, Xzavier Ramsey 14-86, Surzano Solomon 5-21, Cody Ferree 2-15, Logan Alvey 3-1, Garrett Blubaugh 1-(-4), Carter Coons 5-(-10). SW, Rollman 334-193, Logan Klinedinst 2-11, Ben Klein 1-8.
Passing — GA, Alvey 10-27-1-75. SW, Bryce Graham 5-9-1-72.
Receiving — GA, Carter McCauley 3-31, Ramsey 2-16, Coons 2-13, Solomon 2-11, Blubaugh 1-4. SW, Cade Baumgardner 3-40, Tommy Putman 1-33, Declan Smith 1-(-1).
Interceptions — GA, Trent Merillat. SW, Jackson Hersh.