OAK HILL - The Jackson County Patriots have ruled in its meetings against the Columbus War Eagles this season. They earned the regular-season sweep entering Saturday's playoff game.
The Patriots dominated the season series and Saturday was no different, as they jumped out to a 35-0 lead at halftime, en route to a 65-0 thrashing of the War Eagles at Evan Davis Stadium in Oak Hill.
The Patriots (11-0) are the top-seeded team in the Western Conference and will remain at home next Saturday to face the winner between the Ohio Crush and Michigan Hurricanes.
The Patriots scored on their first two possessions of the game, including a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage, on a 66-yard pass from quarterback Tanner Taylor to Jeremy Smith following a three-and-out by the War Eagles on their opening series of the game.
Then punter Kevin Lorenzi fumbled the snap on the War Eagles' next possession and the Patriots recovered it at the Columbus 9-yard line. Three plays later, Danzell Matlock scored on a six-yard run to go ahead 14-0 with 8:09 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots also found the end zone twice on special teams in the second quarter, as Devon Ford's 46-yard punt return for a touchdown put them up 21-0 with 12:19 left.
The War Eagles were forced to punt on their next possession and again, Lorenzi fumbled the snap and Eric Landrum scooped it up and returned it 20-yards to give the Patriots a 28-0 lead.
For the third time, Lorenzi fumbled away the snap, which was recovered by the Patriots. Matlock rushed for a 31-yard gain to the War Eagles' 5-yard line and on 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Taylor connected with Nathan Rohyans for a touchdown pass and a 35-0 lead with 16.4 seconds left in the half.
It took the Patriots all of five second-half plays to increase its lead to 42-0, as Kevin Powers returned the second-half kickoff 14 yards to the Jackson County 46-yard line, and Taylor found Nikko Simpson for a 14-yard touchdown pass five-plays later.
The drive was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty against the War Eagles.
Chris Mavis capped a two-play drive with a 25-yard touchdown run to push the Patriots advantage to 49-0 with 51.5 left in the third quarter.
Place-kicker Justin Mullins, who was a perfect 8-for-8 on PAT's, kicked a 26-yard field goal with 4:18 left in the game to make it 52-0.
Following an onside kick, which was recovered by the Patriots, it took the offense just four plays to increase its lead to 59-0 on a 13-yard touchdown run by Simpson with 1:51 left.
The Patriots defense posted a dominant performance from start to finish against the War Eagles, giving up just 48 yards of offense.
War Eagles quarterback Jeff Campbell was sacked three times and Columbus managed just three first downs for the game. He was also intercepted twice, including one on the final play of the first half by Aaron Wade. Then Simpson intercepted Campbell on the final play of the game and pitched it to Wade, who returned it 96-yards for the 65-0 win.
The Patriots running backs combined for 147 yards, with three of their running backs recording a touchdown each.
Taylor completed 6 of 8 passes for 100-yards and a pair of scores, while backup quarterback Chad Auber entered the game late in the third quarter and led the Patriots on two scoring drives. He finished with 20 yards on 1-of-7 passing.
In their three meetings against the War Eagles this season, the Patriots won all three games by a combined score of 150-18 and 106-0 in the final two meetings.