Troy Schwinnen (45) of Delphos St. John’s breaks through a tackle during the Blue Jays’ Week 11 win over DeGraff Riverside at Stadium Park in Delphos on Friday night. The Blue Jays will play Sideny Lehman Catholic next Friday. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Troy Schwinnen (45) of Delphos St. John’s breaks through a tackle during the Blue Jays’ Week 11 win over DeGraff Riverside at Stadium Park in Delphos on Friday night. The Blue Jays will play Sideny Lehman Catholic next Friday. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
DELPHOS — St. John’s and DeGraff Riverside were tied at 21-21 at halftime of their Region 28 OHSAA football quarterfinal Friday night at Stadium Park.

The host Blue Jays decided to buckle their chin straps and pound the football down the field in the running game the second half. It worked so well that the blue-and-gold scored 27 unanswered points to emerge with a 48-21 victory.

“We didn’t really make many adjustments on either side of the ball at halftime. We were moving the ball well already, especially with the pass; we just needed to make stops on defense,” St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte said. “We decided to shorten the game offensively and run the ball, figuring to wear them down and maybe break their spirit. Defensively, we were not going to let them run the ball, which meant playing man on the back end, but we needed to cover better; we had chances to make plays and we made a few more the second half. We have to go back to work on coverages and get better.”

The third-seeded Blue Jays (7-4) advance to a showdown next Friday versus second-seeded Sidney Lehman Catholic at a site to be determined.

The Jays had the opening possession of the second half and, thanks to the sixth-seeded Pirates (6-5) short kickoffs, started at the 39 on its way to an 11-play drive that put them in the lead. Troy Schwinnen ran six times for 42 yards on the drive, capped by Jared Wurst’s 3-yard keeper off left tackle, to take the lead for good. Mark Wrasman added the point-after-touchdown for a 28-21 lead with 6:57 left in the third period.

After forcing a 3-and-out, the Jays began their next drive at the 42 and went the distance in five plays. This time, at the Riverside 24, Wurst dropped and threw down the middle to Luke Metcalfe, who caught the pigskin at the goal line for the six. Wrasman made it 35-21 with 3:07 showing in the third.

The Jays’ defense stopped the Pirates on 4th-and-1 at the Jays’ 38 to start their third drive. This one also ended up in the end zone in a 9-play sequence. At the Riverside 3, Schwinnen took a toss off left tackle and found a hole to the end zone. Their lead was 41-21 with 8:21 left.

The Jays finished off the scoring on the next DeGraff possession. On play four at the 42, Kale Long threw quickly over the right side but Collin Will read the route perfectly, intercepted it at the 45 and was down the sideline, beating Long inside on his way to the house. Wrasman made it the final score with 6:19 to go.

DeGraff started the game with a 66-yard, 6-play drive, keyed by a pass interference on the hosts. The Jays held the usual ground-hugging Pirates to 113 yards on 34 carries, so the Pirates used Long’s arm to the first score. At the Jays’ 12, he rolled left and found Jaxon Heath in the corner of the end zone. Conor Osburne’s PAT hit the right upright and was no good for a 6-0 edge with 8:38 showing in the opener.

The Jays started with Schwinnen’s 20-yard kick return to midfield and needed four plays to respond. Wurst’s 39-yard pass to Curtis Schwinnen set it up and Troy Schwinnen capped it with a 2-yard toss sweep off the left side. Wrasman made it 7-6 with 6:51 left in the first.

That stood until the Jays took over on their 29 — after stopping the guests on a 4th-and-4 — and marched the distance in two plays. A 68-yard Wurst-to-Connor Hulihan pass set up a 4-yard burst over left guard from Cole Reindel. The Jays led 13-6 with 11:37 left in the half.

Riverside replied with an 8-play, 66-yard drive for their final lead, including a 22-yard connection from Joel Cotterman to Caleb Stevens on a 4th-and-4 fake punt from the 40. At the Jays’ 30, Long found Stevens out of the backfield wide open along the left sideline for the score. Those two hooked up for the 2-pointer and a 14-13 lead with 7:21 to go in the half.

St. John’s countered with a 10-play, 61-yard drive, keyed by 4-of-5 passing from Wurst. At the visitor 1, Troy Schwinnen swept the right side for the six. Wurst ran in the 2-pointer for a 21-14 spread with 2:28 showing in the half.

A 49-yarder from Long to Stevens set up a 6-play, 76-yard scoring drive for DeGraff. At the Jays’ 2, Gaven Anderson ran it in off left guard and Osborne’s kick made it 21-all with 46 seconds showing in the half.