By Pat Magers
FINDLAY - On the scoreboard, they all ranked equally. Each of Tyler Jettinghoff's six touchdowns added six points to the Delphos St. John's total.
The Calvert football players raise their helmets after a 42-10 regional semifinal loss to Delphos St. John's Saturday at Donnell Stadium in Findlay.
But two scores - one near the end of the first half and the other to start the second - provided a wow factor that really set the Blue Jay machine rolling on the way to a 42-10 win over Calvert in a Division VII regional semifinal at Donnell Stadium here Saturday night.
St. John's, winner of six state championships in football already, advances as the eighth seed to the Region 24 championship game against Arlington. The Red Devils pounded Hicksville 54-14 in Saturday's other semifinal.
Calvert had opened a 10-0 lead thanks to an 80-yard touchdown run by Austin Ball on the game's first play and a 38-yard field goal by Michael Smith, a kick that came with 8:57 remaining in the first half.
The Senecas were still on top 10-7 with 2:56 left after Smith's 39-yard punt put the Blue Jays back on their 30. Calvert had stopped the Blue Jays twice in the first period and was hopeful of maintaining an edge at the break.
"We were wearing down a little bit right there and I was thinking that if we could get into the half on top, maybe it would rejuvenate us," Calvert coach Todd Fox said.
Instead, Jettinghoff hit the line for a 5-yard gain and then took off on a 65-yard touchdown run that gave the Blue Jays a 14-10 edge at the half.
"That was huge. He's a tough runner," said St. John's coach Todd Schulte, whose team advances with an 8-4 record while closing Calvert's run at 7-5. "Their safety had a shot at him. We tell Luke (MacLennan, fullback) and Jett you've got to account for one missed block and he did."
Jettinghoff then provided a stinger when he raced 84 yards for a touchdown and a 21-10 edge on the second-half kickoff.
"I didn't expect (a score) that fast, but yeah, when we left the locker room, I said we need a drive, we need a score. We've got to move the ball and see if we can get one on them," Schulte said. "We'll sure take one like that any time."
"That kickoff return really bit us," Fox said. "We were ready to go and then we came out and he got one on us. With a great team like that, you have to answer every time and we weren't able to do that."
Ball finished with 157 yards on 20 carries with the opening sprint an obvious highlight. Quarterback Tyler Long, who had a string of three straight games in which he had topped 200 yards rushing, was limited to 58 yards on 18 tries.
"Their defense did a great job on Tyler, but our plan had been to get Austin Ball back in a groove," Fox said. "He was finally back to 100 percent. That opening touchdown, we were very excited about that."
The Blue Jays were stunned, but not reeling.
"I think the speed of their down linemen caught us off guard a little," Schulte said. "It seemed like they just ran right by our guys. For what reason, I don't know. But I'd say their speed caught us a little by surprise."
When the Blue Jays finally got on the board, it was by way of the power running game. Jettinghoff, who finished with 199 yards on 23 carries, got the call on eight of nine plays on a 63-yard scoring drive. He got the score on a 2-yard slam.
"It was the same play. We just switched from side to side," Schulte said. "I was like, 'OK, I know we know how to do one play. It's time to buckle up and that's what we're going to do.'"
After the kickoff return, Jettinghoff added touchdown runs of 26, 2 and 8 yards. Schulte, a St. John's grad who was a top-notch back in his own right, suggested Jettinghoff's six TDs might well be a school record.
Meanwhile, Calvert's season saw a huge turnaround before coming to an end.
"This stings right now, but when the dust settles and the numbness wears off, the fact that we were MAL champs, finished out 7-5 after a 1-4 start, that's something," Fox said. "Ninety percent of the teams were home watching this week, we're happy.
"We're happy but we have to keep plugging away and get better."