Whatever the question was Friday night, the answer was Wallace-Rose Hill’s speed.
The state’s second-ranked 1A team downed Princeton 42-20, riding a balanced rushing attack and a speedy defense that gave standout running back Johnny Frasier little room to run before a packed house at Jack Holley Football Complex.
Frasier, who has committed to Florida State, finished with 66 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Wallace-Rose Hill (13-1) will host fellow 13-1 squad and nearby rival Warsaw Kenan in the eastern regional championship game next Friday. Princeton finishes its winningest season in school history with a 12-2 mark.
“They had an answer for everything,” said Princeton coach Derrick Minor. “It’s hard to beat their speed on both sides of the ball. We knew it was going to be a chess match, trying to find ways to deal with their speed.
“But it seemed like everything we did, they could make up for it with their speed.”
Princeton scored on the game’s opening drive with senior quarterback Michael Wooten hitting Tanner Woodard on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Wallace-Rose Hill answered with a 16-yard touchdown by junior running back Johnnie Glaspie on its first drive for a 7-6 lead.
Wooten and the Princeton offense answered early in the second quarter with Cameron Jackson’s one-handed leaping grab of a 4-yard pass in the corner of the end zone against excellent coverage by the Wallace-Rose Hill defense. The second failed point after touchdown of the night left Princeton up 12-7 with 5:14 to play in the half.
Wooten threw for 238 yards on 19 of 30 attempts with the two touchdowns and one interception. Princeton threw the ball 20 times in the first half.
“They had seven guys in the box, and we’re a run-first team, but they didn’t give us a lot of chances to run,” Minor said.
Wallace-Rose Hill answered that drive with a rare touchdown pass of its own – B.J. McKenzie hit Alex Lisane for a 31-yard scoring pass on fourth and 5. The 14-12 lead held at the half.
Princeton recovered an onside kick to start the second half, but couldn’t get points out of it.
Glaspie started to take over from there, reeling off a 57-yard touchdown run on one drive, then a 41-yard touchdown run on Wallace-Rose Hill’s next drive for a 28-12 lead. Glaspie finished with 181 yards rushing on 14 carries and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the passing game went away when Wallace-Rose Hill went to more man-to-man coverage in its secondary and found a pass rush.
“In the second half, I thought we played our best defense of the year,” said Wallace-Rose Hill coach Joey Price. “They had some great calls in the first half, showed us some things we haven’t seen on field, like a tight end, and we had to adjust. We played more man-to-man in the second half and our guys did a great job with it.”
Princeton closed within 28-20 on an 8-yard touchdown run by Frasier and a jump pass for the two-point conversion between Woodard and Wooten, but Wallace-Rose Hill answered with two quick scoring drives early in the fourth quarter.
Wallace-Rose Hill rushed for 422 yards. Keyshawn Canady had 151 yards rushing on just 13 carries and a touchdown.
“We didn’t let him get going but a couple of times,” Price said of Frasier. “Our defense did an outstanding job against a great runner. He’s a big, strong kid and everybody’s (colleges) after him for a reason.”