MILLBURY - It's easy to get lost in the numbers. McComb does put up a lot of them. The Panthers put up 524 yards of total offense. Jerry Brown rushed for 252, 227 in the first half. Cody Wilson added 101 more on the ground.
But the most important number is also the smallest - zero.
That's how many points McComb has allowed through two weeks of playoff football. The Panthers posted their second-straight shutout, topping Calvert 42-0 in a Division VI Region 22 semifinal.
"We knew coming in their defense was very good," Calvert coach Todd Fox said. "It's kind of the hidden secret on their team, because their offense is so high-potent also. But their defense is phenomenal. ... We obviously didn't expect to be shutout, but they're tough. Fundamentally they're great. Just everything they do, they do it the right way."
If McComb's defense is its secret, then the secret's out. This was the sixth shutout McComb has posted this year, including one in last week's playoff opener against Arlington.
Panther head coach Kris Alge passed the credit on to two of his assistants, Eric Brickman and Chris Myers, for creating adjustments to stop Calvert's offense.
"Coach Brickman and coach Myers do an outstanding job with our defense," Alge said. "Those two were out, we practiced at (Findlay) Donnell (Stadium) Tuesday night, they made adjustments. They were in the car 'til 10:30 at night. We practiced 'til about 7:30 and they were still making adjustments, how we can defend this."
The biggest moment for the McComb defense came early in the second quarter, as it held a 14-0 lead. After being shut down in its first three offensive series, Calvert finally was able to move the ball, finding itself on McComb's 5-yard line.
However, the Panther defense stiffened, and held back three Seneca attempts to reach end zone. Quarterback Tyler Long was stopped on fourth down at the 4, to end the threat.
"That was huge for us," McComb's Cody Wilson said. "After we stopped them, we knew we had the motivation to carry it out. We knew it was ours after that."
"It was definitely shocking the way they started off defensively," Fox said. "We knew it was going to be a dogfight either way, but we expected to be able to move the ball a little bit more. They just shut us down."
While Calvert was struggling to come up with a first down, McComb was moving up and down the field at will, with Brown leading the way.
McComb's first offensive drive covered 75 yards over five plays, four being Brown rushes including a 58-yarder, and a 17-yard scoring run that lit up the scoreboard for the first time on the night.
Dalton Buck added a 9-yard scoring scamper late in the first quarter and Wilson found paydirt from four yards out to give McComb a 21-0 halftime lead.
McComb's lead could've been bigger if not for Calvert's Donovan Stith, who halted two Panther drives, one with a fumble recovery and another with an interception.
Wilson's scoring run was set up by a 54-yard run by Brown. It was one of three rushes of more than 40 yards in the half for Brown, but each time Calvert's Nick Warnement tracked him down short of the end zone.
"I had some big plays," Brown said. "My lineman made holes, receivers blocked their guys. I just made a cut and ran, and No. 2, he's just fast. I couldn't get there; he's faster than me."
Still, Brown racked up 257 of McComb's 329 first half yards. Aside from his rushing numbers, he also caught a pass for 9 yards, and threw a 21-yard completion.
After the game, he credited his line for paving the way.
"The lineman, this is the best game they've blocked," he said. "They made the holes enormously good for us running backs. We just found the hole and ran."
"Our line had a heck of a game," Wilson added. "They made the right calls, they opened the holes up. I had an amazing running back that opened the way for me to."
Wilson became McComb's go-to man in the second half. Ninety-one of his 101 yards came after halftime and he tacked on another touchdown.
McComb also got touchdown runs from Clay Dysert and Andrew Gibson to close out the scoring.
The Panthers advance to next week's regional final against Delphos St. John's at a site to be announced.
Calvert closes out the year with a 7-5 record after reaching the round of 16 for the second-straight year.
Fox says its a testament to this year's senior class that the team was able to reach the same point it did a year ago, when not many thought it could happen at the beginning of the season.
"I can't say enough about our senior class this year," he said. "They weren't given much credit in the past. Their expectations from the outside world looking in, they just weren't given that opportunity. So we just learned a lot this year.
"I've kind of been redundant the last few weeks, but sports are about learning life lessons. And this group, if anything, they can take what they learned this year and the things they did this year and take it and apply it in life. I'm excited to see (where their lives are going to go), 'cause they're a great group of guys; create a fine example. We're obviously unhappy with ending our season, but it's no slouch in a rebuilding year to be in the regional semifinals."