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St. Thomas Aquinas Division VII, Region 25 Semifinal Preview

Friday Night Ohio 
St. Thomas Aquinas (7-3) vs. Lucas (9-2)

Division VII, Region 25 semifinal

WHEN  7 p.m., Saturday, Northwest High School

LAST WEEK Aquinas 35, Toronto 0; Lucas 21, McDonald 20, OT

PLAYOFF HISTORY Aquinas is appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and the 11th time overall. The Knights won a state championship in 1984, finished as state runners-up in 1974 and 1985 and are 11-9 all-time in the postseason. Lucas is appearing in the playoffs for the sixth straight season and eighth time overall. The Cubs are 6-7 all-time in the postseason.

THE MATCHUP The Knights will aim for back-to-back playoff wins for the first time since they reached the 1985 Division IV state championship game. They have lost three straight regional semifinal games. ... QB Alex Hawkins needs just one more touchdown pass to break the single-season school record. Hawkins threw two touchdown passes in the win over Toronto to tie Anthony Moeglin’s record of 25. He has thrown for 2,197 yards and has been intercepted just three times this season. ... A’sian Burt went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark against Toronto and leads the Knights with 70 catches for 1,077 yards and 14 touchdowns. Burt has caught touchdown passes in eight of Aquinas’ 10 games. He also has scored three special teams touchdowns (all on punt returns against Claymont) and two defensive TDs. ... Av’ion Culler has scored all three of his rushing touchdowns in the Knights’ last three games. He averages 4.6 yards a carry and leads Aquinas in rushing with 541 yards. ... Lucas survived a first-round battle with McDonald that saw the Blue Devils miss a winning two-point conversion in overtime. ... S Logan Niswander broke up the pass to seal the victory. ... Niswander has over 100 tackles from his safety spot. He also is the Cubs’ quarterback. He scored on a fourth-and-1 sneak with 3:45 left to tie the game and force overtime. ... Like Toronto, Lucas is primarily a rushing team. Tommy Zirzow ran for 1,204 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season. Ethan Sauder rushed for 930 yards and nine TDs before the postseason.

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