Though the Edgerton football team entered Saturday’s Division VII Region 26 first-round game without a playoff win in program history — it had the look and the numbers of a state powerhouse.
And the Bulldogs delivered.
Edgerton ran 30 times for 258 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone — racing out to a 36-0 halftime lead over the Flyers, which also proved to be the final margin of victory.
The Bulldogs (11-0) — ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press state poll — will face Pandora-Gilboa (11-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The AP No. 10 Flyers (9-2) close the season in the first round for the first time since 2012.
With Saturday’s win, Edgerton has beaten all 11 opponents by 30-plus points.
Behind a massive offensive line in the double-tight, wing offense, running back Hunter Prince went over 2,000 yards for the season in rushing 26 times for 237 yards and 3 TDs.
In the first half, Edgerton ran 35 plays from scrimmage. A total of 23 plays totaled six-plus yards or more, and 10 plays were 11 yards or more.
“Their offensive line was impressive,” St. Paul coach John Livengood said. “From what we had seen on film, they looked good against everybody. And that was our concern coming in, if we could handle them up front — and we didn’t.
“The better team won,” he added. “They are a very well-coached, good team with a lot of talent. Their line plays hard, the backs run hard and their defense plays great.”
The Bulldogs set the tone from the start. It took just six plays and 2:01 to cover 70 yards, with the shortest play netting eight yards. Quarterback Clayton Flegal capped it with a 26-yard TD pass to Braydon Cape, then Prince ran in the conversion for an early 8-0 lead.
St. Paul reached its own 49-yard line on its first drive, but were forced to punt. The Bulldogs were then just as effective, covering 70 yards in eight plays that took just 2:30 off the clock.
Prince capped that scoring drive with a 4-yard run, though the pass for two points failed for a 14-0 lead at the 5:14 mark of the first.
The Flyers then had their best chance to get in the game on their second drive. Highlighted by Jake Griffin passes for 39 yards to Noah Good and 19 yards to Gavin Starcher, St. Paul reached the Edgerton 23.
However, a fourth-and-5 pass fell incomplete to turn the ball over on downs with 2:04 left in the first.
The Bulldogs then essentially put the game away in going up three scores less than a minute into the second quarter. An 8-play, 77-yard drive lasted just 2:52, with Prince scoring on a 32-yard run with 11:12 left in the first half.
Ahead 22-0, the Edgerton defense forced its first three-and-out of the game. It then took the offense just three plays to cover 58 yards, as Prince got loose this time for a 44-yard scoring run.
“Just a great running back,” Livengood said of Prince. “They were blowing holes open for him five yards wide and he was letting it happen, then making things happen himself to get additional yards.
“Again, can’t say enough good things about them,” he added. “Just a well-coached team with a lot of talent.”
Cape ran in the conversion, and it was 30-0 with still 8:03 left in the first half.
The final TD of the game came just before half. The Bulldogs got a 44-yard pass from Flegal to tight end Logan Showalter to put them in business. Cape then scored on a 6-yard run with 44 seconds left in the half, and the run failed to leave the score at 36-0.
St. Paul’s best chance to score was on the first drive of the second half.
Griffin found Starcher twice for 31 yards and Eric Crabbs once for 16 yards. However, once the Flyers reached the Edgerton 3, they were turned away on four straight plays for another turnover on downs.
Good and Cam Caizzo, who each ran for over 1,000 yards during the regular season, were held to just 30 yards combined on 12 attempts.
“They took away what we do best, which is run the football,” Livengood said. “We were able to pass effectively, sporadically — but not consistently. That was the key thing. They were more consistent than us and more physical than us.”
Griffin was 15-of-21 passing for 194 yards with an interception, with Starcher catching eight passes for 114 yards. Crabbs added four catches for 54 yards, and Good caught two for 43.
Also for the Bulldogs, Cape ran seven times for 55 yards and a TD, while Greg Roth added seven rushes for 52 yards. Flegal was 4-of-6 passing for 98 yards and a TD, with Showalter catching two for 44 yards, and Cape two for 34 yards.
Edgerton ran 44 times for 335 yards of net rushing. A mishandled snap that went for a 9-yard loss on a sack in the third quarter was the only negative play it had the entire game.
St. Paul entered the season coming off a 13-1 state semifinal appearance from a 15-player senior class in 2017. There were just seven seniors in 2018: Griffin, Starcher, Crabbs, Good, Davis Hedrick, Sam Meyer and Luke Stoll.
“It’s hard ending the season tonight, but I will tell you what’s not hard is saying how proud I am of these guys,” Livengood said. “Our expectations are always high, but the reality is we had a small senior class and not a lot of kids back with starting experience.”
St. Paul has not lost a Firelands Conference game since Week 6 of 2012, winning seven straight league titles while reaching the state playoffs each time.
The Flyers have won 9 or more games in each of the past six seasons.
“These kids went 9-2, never lost a conference game and won the league and made the playoffs four times in a row,” Livengood said of his seniors. “That’s what they did, and I’m damn proud of them for it. Just a great group of kids with great leadership.
“It’s about how much do you love your teammates and how much do you care about each other, and these guys care about each other,” he added. “It’s a big reason why they are successful. They work hard and are disciplined, but are also good leaders, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
St. Paul 0 0 0 0 — 0
Edgerton 14 22 0 0 — 36
E — Braydon Cape 26 pass from Clayton Flegal (Hunter Prince run)
E — Prince 4 run (pass failed)
E — Prince 32 run (Prince run)
E — Prince 44 run (Cape run)
E — Cape 6 run (run failed)