WAVERLY — Simply put, it appeared as if the Gallia Academy Blue Devils didn’t know what hit them.
That’s because the fast-paced, and quick strike, Waverly Tigers scored early and often on Saturday night — blitzing the visiting Blue Devils for 33 first-half points en route to a 40-0 blowout shutout in a Division IV, Region 15 quarterfinal at Waverly’s Raidiger Field.
Both teams are now 9-2, but the third-seeded Tigers take the next step of advancing on in the OHSAA state playoffs.
Waverly, which has qualified for the postseason four years in a row, won its first state playoff game since back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2007.
The Tigers are also in a region better-suited for them, no longer competing in the Cincinnati-heavy Region 16.
The Blue Devils, which lost in the regional quarterfinals for the second straight season, suffered a 52-0 shutout loss against Ironton for their only other defeat.
Waverly scored a dozen first-period points, then blew the game open with 21 points on three Payton Shoemaker touchdowns in the second stanza — followed finally by a Hunter Ward 3-yard run with six minutes remaining in the third frame.
The entire second half was played under the OHSAA’s running-clock rule.
Waverly scored first following a five-play, 51-yard, one-minute and 17-second scoring drive on a 23-yard pass to wideout Will Futhey from quarterback Haydn’ Shanks.
That was at the 6:25 mark, as the final 14 minutes and 11 seconds of the half was simply the Shoemaker show.
After another quick, five-play one-minute and 19-second scoring drive, Shoemaker scored from three yards out to make it 12-0.
At the six-minute mark of the second, Shoemaker bolted 72 yards for a touchdown, taking only one play and 14 seconds.
Shoemaker than intercepted Gallia Academy quarterback Noah Vanco at midfield — and returned the pigskin for a 50-yard pick-six.
Shoemaker, after Waverly missed on its first three point-after attempts, ran in the two-point conversion to make it 26-0 with 4:24 remaining in the half.
Then, finally, the Tigers needed just two plays, seven seconds and 44 yards to make it 33-0 at halftime — as Shanks found Futhey for a 43-yard completion, as Shoemaker plunged in from that other yard to make it a hat trick of rushing touchdowns.
Shanks’ 43-yard hookup with Futhey was his longest, as Shanks completed two-thirds of his 18 passes for 166 yards and one interception.
Futhey finished with 89 yards on four receptions, as Penn Morrison managed three catches for 48 yards.
Of course, Shoemaker only added on to his school-record rushing season.
Already over the 2,000-yard mark, he carried 18 times for 146 yards against Gallia Academy — getting almost half of those with his game-breaking and back-breaking 72-yard sprint.
Waverly rushed for 182 yards on 28 times as a team, and only punted twice.
The Tigers took full advantage of five Blue Devil turnovers, including one lost fumble and four Vanco interceptions.
Vanco was 14-of-27, as Briar Williams was the leading receiver with seven receptions for 106 yards.
Gallia Academy only amounted 67 rushing yards, as Vanco was tackled three times for minus-31.
James Armstrong, the Blue Devils’ 1,000-yard rusher but who missed the final three-and-a-half games due to injury, paced the Blue and White with 73 yards on 13 carries.
Waverly will now play seventh-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a Region 15 semifinal on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
And, it’s almost a home game for the Tigers, as Sunday’s site announcement was that Waverly will play the Bulldogs at nearby Chillicothe.
The Bulldogs upset second-seeded Indian Valley 48-39 in another regional quarterfinal.
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