The Middletown Middies clinched a playoff spot with a 49-28 road win over the Princeton Vikings on Saturday afternoon.
Middletown (9-1, 6-1), who has not made it to the postseason since 1990, is expected to be tabbed as No. 7 seed in the Division I, Region 4 when the OHSAA releases the playoff pairings on Sunday afternoon.
With the Middies in, Colerain is out. The Cardinals will not be playing in November for the first time since 1999.
Middletown actually trailed 21-13 early in the third quarter of the game, but rallied quickly before finishing with a three-touchdown victory.
Senior Jerry Gates, one of the Tri-state's most electrifying players, provided the second-half spark. After Princeton had stolen the momentum and taken an eight-point lead, Gates returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score. Following a two-point conversion, the game was tied.
Gates hit paydirt again just over a minute later when he busted out for an 80-yard scoring yard. He got the hat trick early in the fourth quarter when he produced a 76-yard rushing touchdown.
When the dust settled, Middletown had rushed for 352 yards. Gates finished with 156 yards on just two carries. Indiana-bound Antonio Banks contributed 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 attempts and Ohio-commit Caleb Watkins went for 105 yards on 10 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown.
Watkins also threw for 95 yards and a touchdown of 10 of 18 passing. His counterpart, four-star athlete Spencer Ware, didn't disappoint in his final high school game before heading to LSU.
The senior picked up 86 yards and three scores on the ground while completing 15 of 26 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown on the final passing attempt of his a career, a 40-yard strike to Tony Lathers.
The Middies will likely face the loser of tonight's Moeller vs. St. Xavier match-up.
Princeton (5-5, 3-4) finished .500 on the season and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year.