CELINA, OH – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens wrote these words in his 1859 classic “A Tale of Two Cities”, but it very well could have described Friday night’s at times back and forth match-up between rivals St. Marys and Celina.
In a contest to decide if the Bulldogs would be able to reach for an outside share of their first Western Buckeye League title since 1995 or if their cross lake foes would put themselves even further ahead in the race each team took their best shots at one another and seemed to have the game in their favor.
Right out of the gate to open the game the Roughriders offense found themselves clicking as they used just four plays to travel 67 yards and on top 7-0 when Sean Perry rushed though a pack of white jerseys and into the endzone from 19 yards away.
Following the Bulldogs first possession ending with a three and out the Roughriders put together a classic Doug Frye style drive as they utilized 15 plays and 6:59 to push ahead 14-0 on a 1 yard dive by Quarterback Colin Clements.
Another three and out for Celina would give their visitors their best field position, this time at the Bulldogs 47 late in the opening period before Clements pushed in from 2 yards out for his second tally of the evening to put his squad on top 21-0 with 8:03 remaining in the second quarter.
A pair of punts would pin each team deep on their next possession before a big return gave Celina life at their own 40 with :26 to go in the first half. What was quickly a promising drive that moved the home team down to the Riders 20 came to and end when the stadium clock reached 0:00 however and sent the two teams into the locker room with a 21-0 St. Marys lead.
In the third quarter a Celina offense that had been out-gained by a plethora of yards in the first two periods sprang to life and were able to cut into the St. Marys lead with their first touchdown when QB Brett Schwieterman connected with Kole Murlin for a 6 yard touchdown late in the games penultimate quarter to make it 21-7 St. Marys.
Celina continued to stymie the St. Marys offense in the early part of the fourth quarter and pulled themselves to within 21-14 with just 9:57 remaining when tailback Kyle Zizleman raced in from 20 yards out for his 8th score of the season.
Despite Celina having the momentum in their favor the Rider offense was able to push the lead back out to a pair of scores and begin to deflate the Bulldog enthusiasm when Sean Perry, who finished with a career high 211 yards on the evening raced 59 yards down the sideline to put his team first and goal from the Celina 8.
Ty Schlosser’s 7th touchdown run of the season, an 8 yard jaunt gave the Riders a 28-14 lead with 8:55 remaining in the contest and all but assured his team would stay as the leagues lone unbeaten.
Two straight incomplete passes on third and fourth down for Celina and Schwieterman would force the Bulldogs to relinquish the football on their ensuing possession before St. Marys again put together another long drive to put the final touches on their second straight win in the series.
Starting from the Celina 48 the Roughriders utilized 9 plays and a key offside penalty on the Bulldogs inside the 10 to get Colin Clements his third rushing touchdown of the evening, a 1 yard plunge that provided the games final score and margin of 35-14.
Celina saw their final chance with the football come to an end as an errant pass found its way into the waiting hands of St. Marys defensive back Sean Perry and allowed his offense to take a pair of kneel downs to run out the remaining time in the contest.
With the loss the Bulldogs see their season record fall to 5-3 overall and 5-2 in Western Buckeye League play. Celina will be on the road next week as they will travel to take on Van Wert.
For the first time since the 2003 and 2004 seasons the Roughriders will lay claim to being at worst Co-WBL Champions. A win next week at home inside the friendly confines of Skip Baughman Stadium against Defiance would mean St. Marys (7-1, 7-0) would be the outright Western Buckeye League Champions for the first time since capturing the 2003 crown when they finished 9-2.
On the evening the Roughriders #1 ranked rushing offense picked up 366 yards on 59 rushes and held Celina to a total of 282 yards on 63 total plays. Leading the St. Marys attack was Sean Perry’s 211 yards on 24 carries. Ty Schlosser added 17 totes for a total of 90 yards, his second such rushing yardage contest of the season.
All-time St. Marys is now 64-29-6 against their lake counterparts, including 13-2 under current head coach Doug Frye who moves to a personal mark of 6-1 at Celina Stadium.