The drought is over for the Moeller Crusaders as they held off the previously unbeaten Colerain Cardinals 24-21 to win their first Regional Championship since 1997 and 12th in school history.
Moeller (10-3) managed to build a 10-7 halftime despite losing the time of possession battle to Colerain (12-1) by an almost 2-to-1 margin.
After intermission anytime the Crusaders needed a big play it fell on the shoulders of their seniors and their offensive line. Both executed brilliantly down the stretch.
Keith Watkins got stronger as the game wore on. The Moeller running back followed his blockers and racked up 203 of the 246 yards rushing the Crusaders would have on the night. It was the third time that the senior had topped the 200-yard mark as he raised his total to 1,963 yards on the season. He also had his 25th rushing touchdown of 2012. Big Moe needed every last one of Watkins yards as the passing game mustered just 40 yards and two interceptions on the night.
Things started out great for Colerain as Chris Davis ran for 28 yards on the Cardinals' first play of the night. It would end up being be the longest run of the night for the team, but Colerain would manage another 210 yards on the ground on 44 more carries. The Cardinals were led by Jackson Sorn, who had 83 yards and found the end zone for the eighth time in 2012.
Colerain quarterback LA Ramsby was named Southwest District Offensive Player of the Year earlier in the week. The Crusaders defense held him in check. Ramsby, who came into the tilt with 1,535 yards passing, had a goose egg in the first half. He would finish with 114 yards through the air and a late scoring toss to Davis to pull his squad to within three at 24-21 with 1:23 left in the contest. The senior added another 78 yards rushing.
On paper Colerain won most of the major statistical categories except on the scoreboard side. The Cardinals owned a 4:50 advantage in time of possession. They did not turn the ball over and had two takeaways (interceptions). The one area that let Colerain down was special teams. They missed a 40-yard field goal and gave up 78-yard punt return touchdown to Max Foley that energized the Crusaders in the third quarter.
Up next for Moeller is Pickerington North, who won their first ever regional championship when they beat Hilliard Davidson on Saturday night. Every time Moeller has made it this far they have either won the state title (seven times) or finished second (four times).