CHILLICOTHE — Coming into Friday’s Week 6 matchup with Jackson, nobody but the Cavaliers themselves thought they had a snowball’s chance in hell to beat the undefeated Ironmen.
But the Cavaliers didn’t care and thrived in the underdog role.
With the outright Frontier Athletic Conference title on the line, Chillicothe handed Jackson a 30-27 loss in double overtime — winning its first conference crown since 2017 and giving the Ironmen their first regular season and league loss since Oct. 12, 2018.
Jackson (5-1, 4-1 FAC) scored the game’s first touchdown with 11:56 left in the second quarter on a one-yard run from Evan Spires. But, like they did all night, the Cavaliers had an answer with 4:27 left when quarterback Kam Smith hit Jaden Cain for a 47-yard touchdown toss.
The Ironmen then embarked on a 48-yard drive that landed them on Chillicothe’s 29-yard line. But with 42 seconds left in the half, Isaac McCory picked off an errant pass and allowed the Cavaliers to head into halftime in a 7-7 deadlock.
It was the first of four interceptions, a testament to Chillicothe’s defense. The Ironmen entered the game averaging 47.4 points per game.
The Ironmen took a 14-7 lead with 6:13 left in the third before extending the advantage to 20-7 at the 1:35 mark when Cade Wolford ripped off a 57-yard touchdown run.
But the Cavaliers didn’t hang their heads, and responded.
They scored 13 unanswered points — thanks to six and 12-yard touchdown runs from Maxwell Lee that ended 43- and 78-yard scoring drives at the 10:21 and 1:51 marks in the fourth.
In overtime, Chillicothe took a 27-20 lead when Lee scored his third touchdown of the night, this time a two-yard plunge into the end zone. Jackson answered, thanks to a five-yard run from Winters, to force a 27-27 tie.
But on the next possession, in double OT, Xzavier Doss logged his second interception of the night and handed the ball to the Cavaliers’ offense. That set up Chillicothe’s Jacob Coffland with a 43-yard field goal try that connected dead center for the win.
For Jackson, Winters ended the night 13-of-26 passing for 165 yards alongside a touchdown and four interceptions. He also rushed the ball 17 times for 100 yards and a score.
Tristan Prater caught six passes for 101 yards, and Wolford tallied 77 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Jackson earned a first-round bye to open the playoffs, and will plat the winner between Tri-Valley and Columbus Centennial at 7:00 on Saturday, October 17 at Alumni Stadium.