OSBORNE — With the Osborne High School football team already leading Dighton 22-0 on Friday night in the Eight-Man Division II semifinals, Osborne senior Kade Miller took a hard hit over the middle on a reception attempt.
After he bounced right back up, senior teammate and quarterback Darnell Holloway uttered a few words to the standout end.
“I was fired up,” Holloway said after what he thought should have been a penalty for the hard hit over the middle. “Kade took a hit, and I told him, ‘Hey, I got you.’ ”
On the next play, Holloway made good on those words. The senior followed a solid line, and broke numerous tackles on his way to a 45-yard score.
The play encapsulated what was a dominant night for the Bulldogs as they captured a 46-0 win, sending Osborne to its second state title game in three years.
“He had a nice run,” Osborne coach Brandon Wise said of Holloway, who two plays earlier in the drive was whistled for a personal foul call in a sideline scrum, a call he and his coaches questioned. “He’s fast and he’s physical when he wants to be. The offensive line did a great job on that.
“This was just a good all-around team game.”
Dighton, which finished its season 9-3, put up a solid effort out of the gate, but never could muster much in its offense that had posted 45 points per contest despite having just nine players.
“Dighton is a tough, gritty team,” Wise said. “You don’t get to this point in the playoffs — having nine kids — if you’re not tough.”
The Hornets moved the ball on their opening series, helped out by a big completion from senior Blair Hoffman to senior David Cramer. Dighton reached the 7-yard line and had a first down, but Osborne held on four plays.
“We needed that,” Holloway said. “That was the most important play. You’ve got to stop those, and we got it done.”
“They moved the ball on us a little bit and we had some self-inflicted wounds,” Wise said. “That Dighton team has been making catches like that all year long.”
Osborne’s first drive covered 71 yards, setting the tone for a big offensive night. The Bulldogs, who had big plays all year long, went to a more workmanlike effort up the middle all night. The Bulldogs chewed up any clock with junior Darrien Holloway posting 175 rushing yards on 29 carries.
“They have a very good backfield. They are fast and their offensive line play is very good too,” Dighton coach Ken Simon told the Garden City Telegram prior to Friday’s contest. “We’re going to have to be very good on the defensive side, just trying to be in position and making tackles in space against that speed.
“They don’t run a lot of different looks, but they are good at what they do. We’re going to have to step up the challenge and make sure ourO-line and D-line play play big and make sure that we hold our own up front.”
Osborne owned that part of the field, though, on both sides of the ball.
Osborne (11-1) led just 8-0 after one quarter, but posted three scores in the second quarter — two coming from Darrien Holloway. His first capped a 65-yard drive after Dighton was stopped on fourth down for the second time.
“We just ran the option, gutted out 4 or 5 yards a play,” Wise said, “and busted a big one every once in a while.
“That’s the way the offense is designed to work. I’m happy with the way we played tonight.”
Save for a couple big catches, Dighton’s offense stalled most of the night.
“Stop the quarterback,” Darnell Holloway said. “He’s the main option in that offense, so we just had to stop him.”
By halftime — after Darnell Holloway’s bruising TD run — the Bulldogs led 30-0, and were just two scores away from sending the Hornets home early. Holloway and Miller hooked up to cap the third quarter’s first drive, and after a punt by the Hornets, Darrien Holloway’s 8-yard run helped end things early. Darnell Holloway and Miller hooked up for the 2-point conversion, sending Osborne to Newton with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Darnell Holloway finished with 62 passing yards and a pair of scores to go along with 93 rushing yards and the TD. Miller caught five passes for 52 yards and both scores.
Osborne now will face top-ranked and unbeaten Hanover in the 11 a.m. title game Saturday at Newton’s Fischer Field. The championship mainstay Wildcats will make their ninth appearance — and fifth straight — in a title round. Hanover has won the last two crowns.