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Recker shines as Wildcats rally past Pirates

KALIDA, OH – It took his team six innings to warm up offensively but Kalida righthander Owen Recker was white hot early and throughout the game Monday night as he helped his team to a 4-1 win over visiting Continental in Putnam County League action.

Holy Name Ballpark has seen some tremendous pitching performances over the years but as accomplished as Wildcat pitching has been in the past only Brian Klausing, Chad Ehrnsberger, and William Stechschulte have accomplished what Owen Recker did during this outing as he retired 19 Pirate hitters via strikeout.

With the contest scoreless into the fourth inning and just one hit (a double by Kalida’s Derek Buss), Continental pitcher Brady Dockery found himself issued the second free pass from Recker to give the visitors a runner at first. By virtue of a stolen base Dockery found himself as second and would remain there for two batters until Jacob Williams singled him in to give the Pirates a 1-0 advantage.

Kalida had their chances in the third and fourth innings to bring in the tying run but saw both come to an end via a flyball for their third out of each frame.

After seeing Recker sit down the Continental top three hitters in the top of the sixth for strikeouts 13/14/15 the Wildcats went to work on the basespaths in the bottom half of the inning and picked up a tie and their first lead of the contest.

Derek Buss who had reached early in the game for one of the two Wildcat hits, reached again as this time hit was a victim of an errant pitch from Dockery. With an error allowing Buss’ pinch runner to move over, Jeffery Knueve recorded his 10th RBI of the year when he singled in the tying run with no outs.

Back to back singles from Trevor Lambert and Kevin Hamburg put a pair of runners on the basepaths for the Wildcats with no outs before Recker helped out his own cause by being walked with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead run. In all Kalida would send eight hitters to the plate in the inning and see four come around to score as they pushed their advantage to 4-1 after six innings.

Despite the last two hitters reaching full counts, all three hitters for Continental in the top half of the seventh inning were retired via the strikeout and helped Recker complete the 19 strikeout outing and earn his third victory of the season.

The last time Continental was victorious against Kalida came in 1988, 30 games ago now in the series.

Continental sees their season record fall to 1-6 overall, and 0-3 in Putnam County League games. The Pirates will be back in action on Tuesday night as they travel to Paulding for a non-conference tilt.

Kalida (6-5, 3-0) keeps their defense of their PCL title perfect with the win and will travel to Lima to do battle with Lima Central Catholic on Tuesday before county battles with OG on Thursday, and Columbus Grove on Friday.

WP: Owen Recker (3-2): 7IP, 1R, 1H, 19K, 2BB
LP: Brady Dockery (1-2): 6IP, 4R, 4H, 4K, 4BB

Key Batters:
Jacob Williams (Cont): 1/3, 1H, 1RBI
Jeffery Knueve (Kalida): 1/3, 1H, 1RBI, 1R
Kevin Hamburg (Kalida): 2/3, 1R


63rd open season with victory

OTTAWA, OH – Ottawa Post 63’s first game of the season came with its fair share of challenges at times but when the darkness began to set in and the top of the 8th inning wrapped up the Fighting 63rd had outscored Troy 13-8.

Coming off of an 8-12-2 season and with just four players returning from last seasons squad the 63rd opened their first contest with a new lineup and opportunities to shine for their young club.

Kalida’s Brady Laudick got the start for Ottawa on the mound and surrendered four walks in the first inning, but saw just one turned into a run as he got a strikeout and a groundout from the bottom of the Troy order to help limit the damage against his team on the new scoreboard installed at Memorial Park.

Eight batters came to the plate for the home squad in the bottom of the opening frame and three would find themselves crossing home plate in the inning. Jackson Lammers (Miller City) got things going first as he doubled to the left field wall. Corbin Niese (Miller City) was issued a walk and Austin Swift (Kalida) singled to drive in a run. Ryan McCracken’s (Van Wert) RBI ground out to short and Austin Klausing’s (Kalida) sacrifice fly brought in the remaining two runners.

Troy Post 43, coming off of a 41-18 season last year that saw them reach the Great Lakes American Legion National Regional for the first time since 1970 came out swinging in the second inning as they plated five runs of their own to take a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the second.

Ten batters came to bat for Troy in the top half of the inning that began with a single from Frank Gnuca and ended when Gnuca grounded out to Lammers at short following every one of his teammates having had their turn on the offensive end against relief pitcher Jordan Tovarnak (Shawnee) who came in with one out in the inning.

Following a pair of scoreless innings on both side the visitors punched across a run in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead in the game.

Ottawa responded to their opponents marker in the fifth and sixth innings as they tallied eight runs to take an 11-7 lead into the seventh led by a triple and a double by Swift and McCracken to start the fifth, and a trio of singles by Niese, Swift, and Van Wert’s Ryan Stoller that followed up a leadoff double by Ada’s Brayden Sautter in the sixth.

Braden Nesbit (Tipp City Bethel/Muskingum) added the last run for Troy as he smacked a ball over the right centerfield wall to cut the Ottawa lead to 11-8 in the seventh before his next six teammates would be retired in order to end the game.

Corbin Niese singled to open the bottom of the seventh, Austin Swift was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count, and McCracken singled in a run as all three would come around to score in the final Ottawa at bat before their turn came to an end.

McCracken finished the day 3-5 at the plate and with 4 RBI for the victorious Fighting 63rd (1-0) while Van Wert High School teammate Stoller finished 2-4 with a run scored and a walk on the day.

Lima Senior Junior Josiah Shoemaker (1-0) snagged the win for his squad while Noah Roswell (0-1) took the loss for Troy (2-3).

Troy will return home Friday night to begin WOL play as they take on Greenville while the Fighting 63rd are in Kalida for exhibition action against the Lima Locos at Holy Name Ballpark beginning at 7pm. Lima vs Ottawa can be heard live on: Zsportslive.com

Box Score:


Jackson Lammers (Miller City): 2-5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 Runs
Corbin Niese (Miller City): 2-4, 1 BB, 3 Runs
Austin Swift (Kalida): 3-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, 3 Runs, HBP
Ryan McCracken (Van Wert): 3-5, 2B, 4 RBI, 3 Runs
Ryan Stoller (Van Wert): 2-4, BB, Run
Brady Laudick (Kalida): BB
Jordan Tovarnak (Shawnee): 0-1
Josiah Shoemaker (Lima Sr): 0-2
Noah Howell (Temple Christian): 1-1
Austin Klausing (Kalida): 1-5, 2 RBI
Nate Arrington (Ottawa Glandorf): 0-4, BB, RBI
Matt Bowden (Bluffton): 1-2
Brayden Sautter (Ada): 2-2, 2B, SB, RBI, Run


Ottoville, Miller City post tournament wins

FINDLAY, OH – The Ottoville Big Green and Miller City Wildcats will meet for a second time this season as on Saturday night at 8pm inside Findlay High School they will battle for a sectional championship by virtue of their wins Wednesday night. Ottoville jumped out on Continental and never looked back as they rolled to an 84-28 victory in the opening contest before Miller City downed McComb 59-48 in the nightcap.

Second seeded Ottoville shot 6/16 in the opening period and forced their opponents into just 2/12 from the floor en route to an 18-7 lead at the first stoppage. A 31 point second quarter for the Big Green provided most of the damage to the Continental hopes of winning as six players tallied markers for the designated home squad to push their advantage to 49-13 at the half.

On the evening the girls from Ottoville forced their opponents into 31 turnovers and allowed just 10/30 from the field as they routed the Pirates for the second time. In two meetings this season the Big Green outscored Continental 154-55.

With the win Ottoville improves their season record to 21-2, they were led in scoring by Bridget Landin and Brooke Mangas with 17 apiece. Continental finishes at 1-21 and was led in scoring by their leader on the season in Amber Logan with 10, four below her average.


Ottoville (84):
CJ Kemper 9
Madison Knodell 2
Bridget Landin 17
Nicole Kramer 8
Brooke Mangas 17
Amber Miller 6
Emily Landin 2
Alexis Thorbahn 12
Kasey Knippen 3
Brynie Hannerman 2
Quinley Schlagbaum 4
Haley Hoersten 2

FG: 26/64
3PT: 7 (Thorbahn 2, Kemper, B. Landin, Mangas, Knippen)
FT: 25/29
TO: 14

Continental (28):
Paige Lawhorn 3
Alivia Homier 3
Jaylen Armey 2
Blair Tegenkamp 4
Amber Logan 10
Madison Sharp 5
Ashley Mansfield 2

FG: 10/30
FT: 6/10
3PT: 3 (Logan 2, Lawhorn)
TO: 31

Tied 7-7 after the first quarter the second contest of the night between McComb and Miller City almost went to the half tied up as well, but the Wildcats were able to get one more marker than their opponents and carry a 23-22 lead into the break.

Miller City connected on 6/10 free throws and scored 18 points in the third quarter as they were able to jump on the Panthers and take a 41-33 into the final period.

Cassie Niese, a 5’7 Senior guard for the Wildcats scored a game high 20 points in the contest and hit on 5 of her 6 charity tosses as she helped her team earn the victory and move on to play again at Findlay on Saturday night.

McComb sees their season come to an end at 16-7 and were led in scoring by 1st team Blanchard Valley Conference selection Nora Hemminger who scored 15 points, all in the last three quarters. Miller City is now 12-11 on the season following the win.

Saturday night at 8pm in a game that will be broadcast live on Zsportslive.com the Wildcats will look for redemption for a 62-52 loss back in December when they take on Ottoville.


Miller City (59):
Cassie Niese 20
Paige Wenzinger 5
Tiffany Welty 6
Amanda Simon 12
Christina Berger 4
Elizabeth Klear 5
Jenelle Kuhlman 5
Megan Warnimont 2

FG: 20/38
FT: 14/20
3PT: 2 (Simon, Kuhlman)
TO: 23

McComb (48):
Nora Hemminger 15
Makenna Babb 14
Camryn Sudlow 7
Jenna Herr 10
Jordan Shelley 2

FG: 17/51
FT: 12/24
3PT: 2 (Babb, Herr)
TO: 12


Pemberville eliminates Ottawa

OTTAWA, OH – The Fighting 63rd didn’t win too many battles against Mother Nature this season and unfortunately didn’t win Monday night at home to continue their run towards a District Championship as they were defeated by Pemberville 5-3.

OG’s Austin Verhoff got the start for Ottawa and trotted out to the mound to begin the top of the first inning and wasted no time ending the half inning as he used just 12 pitches in getting his team their first opportunity to bat in the bottom half of the first.

Terry Dockery led off the game for the Fighting 63rd as he procured a walk from Pemberville starter Dugan Smith and was quickly bunted to 2nd base by Jackson Lammers. Brad Croy’s free pass on four pitches had Ottawa with runners on 1st and 2nd with just one out but the home squad would not be able to bring in either as Isaac Fitzgerald and Ben Dietering each flew out to right field.

A single, a hit batsman, and a pair of fielders choice plays from the visitors would set up the stage for four runs in the inning. An errant throw by Verhoff to third base on a ground ball landed in left field and allowed the games first run to come across the plate. Following another error on a throw to first, the lead would move to 2-0 as catcher Dakota Gilbert came in to score. The final pair of runs in the 2nd would find their way onto the scoreboard when they were driven in on a single by Randy Pratt to make it 4-0 heading to Ottawa’s second turn at the bat.

Six hits would be all Ottawa would pick up on the night and none would amount to any runs until an RBI single by Dockery brought Verhoff around to score in the 5th. Trevor Maag scored the 63rd’s second run of the game on a ground ball that turned into an error on the throw to cut the lead to 4-2 after 5 innings played.

The last Pemberville run of the game came in the 8th inning and was charged to Continental’s Fred Shepard who came in to pitch in relief of Verhoff following the 7th inning. With two outs in the inning, shortstop Zachary Zam who had been responsible for a pair of terrific defensive stops laced a double off of the wall in left centerfield to reach base. A balk moved Zam to third base where he was singled in by teammate Cade Boos to give Pemberville their final run of the game and make the score 5-3.

After opening the bottom of the ninth with a walk to Dockery, Ottawa looked to be in pretty good position with the top of their lineup at bat. Dockery would be thrown out trying to steal second base however on a throw by Gilbert to erase the 63rd threat. Croy reached first base on a fielders choice following a Lammers strikeout, but Fitzgerald who finished 0-3 with a pair of walks would ground out to third to bring the game to its conclusion.

Ottawa’s 2015 season comes to an end at 8-12-1 while Pemberville will come back to Ottawa tonight (7/21) at 6pm to take on Napoleon for the right to move on in District play.

Box Score:

Ottawa: 3-6-3

Ottawa Hitting:

Terry Dockery 1-3, 2 Walks, RBI
Jackson Lammers 1-5, 1 RBI, Sac Fly/Sac Bunt
Brad Croy 0-3, 2 Walks
Isaac Fitzgerald 0-5
Ben Dietering 0-3, 1 Walk
Brad Stolly 1-4, 3 K’s
Chandler Kersh 1-4
Austin Verhoff 2-3, Run
Fred Shepard 0-0, Run, HBP
Trevor Maag 0-3, Walk, Run

Ottawa Pitching:

Austin Verhoff (L) 7.0 IP, 5K, 1 HBP, 4H, 4R (4 ER), 2 HBP, 1 Walk
Fred Shepard 2.0 IP, 1 HBP, 2 H, 1R (1ER), 1 Walk

Pemberville Batting:

Elijah Brown 0-4, Walk, 3 K’s
Lance Smith 0-4, Walk
Mason Beachler 0-5
Mason Apple 2-4, Run
Dakota Gilbert 0-4, HBP, Run
Zachary Zam 1-3, HBP, 2 Runs
Cade Boos 1-4, Run, RBI
Bryce Pratt 0-4, 2 K’s
R. Pratt 2-4, 2 RBI

Pemberville Pitching:

Dugan Smith (W) 6.0 IP, 2 K, 4 BB, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 WP
Brent Hayward (S) 3.0 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 2 H, 0 R, 1 WP, 1 HBP


Fighting 63rd survives late Greenville rally

OTTAWA, OHIO – The Ottawa Fighting 63rd got up early in their matchup against the Greenville Legion squad but had to get a couple of key outs as they held on for an 11-10 six inning win Thursday night.

Ottawa got things going in the home half of the first inning as St. Marys’ Tristen Becker who opened the frame by slapping a single into the outfield off of Greenville starter AJ Bowers (Greenville HS) came around to score to make it 1-0. Brad Croy (OG) who reached on a dropped ball in centerfield also came around to score moments later on an error. 2nd team Putnam County League selection Fred Shepard (Continental) added the innings final pair of runs as he drove in a pair on a single to make it 4-0 Ottawa heading to the second inning.

After getting an inning opening strikeout of Greenville DH Tanner Maples (Tri-Village), Ottawa starter Adam Purdy (Elida) hit Quintin Wood (Greenville HS) to put him on base. Moments after putting Wood on first, Purdy started a 1-3-4 doubleplay as he fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt from Cole Burell (Arcanum) perfectly to get out of the second with no damage.

With 9 hitters coming to the plate in the first inning, Ottawa found themselves in the same spot to begin the bottom of the second inning, with the top of their lineup at bat. Becker, who finished 3-3 with a walk on the day doubled this time around and was driven in by Bath’s Jared Davis to put the score at 5-0 after two full innings.

Reese Hunt (Greenville HS) got the first Greenville hit of the contest in the 3rd but saw three of his teammates strike out and leave him stranded at first base.

A scary moment in the game took place in the bottom of the second inning when 63rd catcher William Kleffner (Shawnee) was injured chasing a foul ball back to the backstop. On the play Kleffner hit hard against the brick backstop and was taken via ambulance to the hospital in Lima to be examined.

Miller City’s Jackson Lammers took over in the 7th spot for Kleffner (Brad Stolly of LCC moved from 3rd to catcher on the switch) and immediately paid dividends as he singled. Lammers would find his way to 3rd base and be driven in by Becker to make it 6-0 Ottawa after 3 innings complete.

Kory Baker (Arcanum), and Brad Caudill (Fairlawn) would be the first two runs of the game for Greenville as they were driven in by Wood. Wood himself would come around to score after he stole home to cut Ottawa’s lead to 6-3 in the middle of the 4th inning.

Brad Croy (OG, 2015 WBL POY) began the bottom half of the inning for Ottawa by looping a ball into right field over the head of secondbaseman Chantz Martinez (Piqua) but was gunned out at first as rightfielder Logan Elmore (Tri-County North) fired a dart to nab him at first base and keep him off the bases.

Adam Purdy would account for the only run of the inning and push the score to 7-3 when he was driven in on an RBI double by OG’s Ben Deitering.

Baker who finished 2-3 with a hit by pitch in his last at bat scored a run on a Caudill RBI 5-3 groundout in the 5th to cut the lead to just 7-5 (Reese Hunt led off the inning with a walk and came around to score earlier in the stanza).

The fifth inning was especially kind to the Fighting 63rd as they increased their lead to 11-5 with runs by Becker (walk), Davis (RBI single), Croy (RBI single) before they saw their inning end on a lineout by Lammers to the shortstop Burell.

In their last chance at bat to lead off the 6th inning, Greenville would face two different pitchers in the inning in Deitering and Croy. 11 batters came to the plate in the inning with Burell, Martinez, Elmore, Hunt, and Baker all scoring runs in the inning. Burell’s second at bat of the inning would be the final out of the contest as he flew out to Kalida’s Austin Klausing to preserve the win for the Fighting 63rd as it was stopped following the 6th due to Memorial Field no longer having stadium lights and creeping darkness in the area.

Ottawa ups their record to 2-0 on the season and will welcome Whitehouse to town on Sunday for a doubleheader that begins at 1pm and can be heard live on Zsportslive.com. Adam Purdy went 4 innings, struck out 4, walked 5, hit a batter and gave up 4 runs to earn his first Legion win this season.

AJ Bowers (Greenville HS) took the loss for Greenville as he pitched 6 innings, gave up 11 runs, 9 hits, 3 walks, and 1 hit by pitch with no strikeouts. Greenville will travel to Xenia’s Athletes in Action Sports Complex to take on the Gem City Throwbacks on Saturday at 5pm in a scheduled 9 inning affair.

The two teams will meet again on July 7th at GTI Field at 7pm.


Continental outlasts PG

Continental and Pandora Gilboa traded leads early in the game but the Pirates 20-0 run over the second and third quarter propelled them past the Rockets and to their 4th PCL win of the season 48-37 Thursday night.

Three lead changes took place in the first quarter as each team scratched and clawed their way to 9 first quarter points. With the score tied at 6-6 midway through the stanza, Continental pulled ahead at 9-6 when Trevor Williamson connected on a three pointer from the wing. Pandora Gilboa responded on their next possession with a two pointer and a subsequent free throw to send the game deadlocked into the next quarter.

6’5 Senior Colin Fenstermaker opened the second quarter with a score for the Rockets to give them an 11-9 lead. Unfortunately for the visitors it would be their last score for 7:44 of game action until a third quarter basket by Fenstermaker brought their 13th point of the game.

Over the same 7:44 Continental would go on a 20-0 run keyed by 7 points from Trevor Williamson and 4 from Gabe Williams to push the lead to 31-11 at the 6:16 mark of the 3rd.

Entering the final stanza of play the Rockets found themselves trailing 41-19 but never gave up. PG found themselves within 10 points at 45-35 but with just 34.3 seconds remaining on the clock as they outscored the Pirates 16-4 to that point in the quarter. Continental would muster just 7 points in the period but it would be enough as Gabe Williams connected on 3/4 free throws, including a pair with 29.9 seconds left to help his team hold on until the final buzzer by a 48-37 margin.

The Pirates were led in scoring by Trevor Williamson with 19, and get to 6-13 overall with the win. Continental finishes the PCL part of their schedule at 4-3, and will play host to Patrick Henry (7-13) Friday night to end the regular season.

Pandora Gilboa sees their season record fall to 3-18 overall and 0-7 in Putnam County League play. The Rockets will travel to Findlay on Friday night to take on Liberty Benton in BVC play to end the regular season.


Continental (48):

Joey Swager 2
Gabe Williams 12
Tyler Brecht 2
Derek Troyer 2
Trevor Williamson 19
Wade Stauffer 2
Caleb Olds 5
Paige Thomas 2
Jacob Williams 2

FG: 20/47
FT: 1/5
3s: 4 (Williamson 3, Olds)
TO: 15

PG (37):

Tyler Morris 1
Ryan Lee 2
Drew Johnson 10
Grant Murphy 5
Colin Fenstermaker 17
Layton McCullough 2

FG: 14/39
FT: 8/13
3s: 1 (Murphy)
TO: 21

JV: 37-33 Continental (OT)


Columbus Grove heats up in second half to down Bluffton

BLUFFTON, OHIO – Columbus Grove earned themselves a home playoff game by downing both the weather and Bluffton 21-6 in NWC action Friday night.

Last season the Bulldogs were entering their second season under Coach Andy Schaefer. For only the second time in a decade they would not make the playoffs as they finished 2-8. Fast forward to this season and the Bulldogs are playing as well as anyone heading into the playoffs of which they will be a participant once again.

At kickoff of tonight’s contest the temperature said it was 39 degrees as the ball was put in play for the first play. Bluffton began the game at their own 20 but could not capitalize on their 7 play drive that saw them advance to near midfield before punting the ball away to Columbus Grove.

Starting at their own 13 yard line, Grove would advance to their own 39 yard line in 6 plays before Senior tailback and leading rusher Joey Warnecke was hit and fumbled the football to Mitchell Ault of Bluffton back at his own 30. Bluffton would take over but wouldn’t be able to do anything into the western wind before being forced into a turnover on downs.

Another fumble that could have proven costly for the Bulldogs, this time by David Bogart would be recovered by Bluffton and put them inside the Grove 20, but again the Bulldogs rose to the occasion to put a stop to a scoring opportunity with a turnover on downs.

On the ensuing Grove possession Warnecke would showcase his running ability as he took a Reid Stechschulte handoff and sprinted 78 yards down the sideline in front of the Bluffton bench for his 14th touchdown run of the season to give his squad a 7-0 lead as he also booted in the extra point with 5:45 remaining in the second quarter.

Bluffton’s best chance to score came with 40 seconds left in the first half as an Ault pass on 4th down from the 12 yard line of the Bulldogs intended for Levi Kistler was knocked away at the last second by Eli Schroeder.

Having won the toss and choosing to defer to the second half, the Bulldogs began the 3rd quarter with the football. On the 4th play of the drive Joey Warnecke added his second touchdown of the game at the 10:22 mark of the quarter as he thundered 41 yards up the Grove sideline to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.

Punting was an adventure for both squads as Bluffton’s Ault saw his next offering travel only 19 yards into the wind. Warnecke’s third punt of the night would be much better than his first two (17, 27) as his wind aided boot traveled 54 yards before coming to a stop at the Pirates 13.

Moments before his third punt ended the second Bulldogs drive of the half, Warnecke took a handoff up the middle and ran over a Bluffton defender. That defender for Bluffton as it turned out would be Mitchell Ault who would leave the game for the lockerroom and only return a quarter later in sneakers and on crutches.

With Ault out, the QB and punting duties would be split between the duo of Robbie Stratton and Jason Bracy respectively. Bracy’s first punt would travel 25 yards and give Columbus Grove the ball at the Pirate 46 but wouldn’t be able to get any more points as Joey Warnecke missed a field goal from 28 yards out to the left.

It took just one play for the Bulldogs to get the ball back this time as Kaleb Jefferson coughed up the pigskin at his own 20 yard line. 4 plays and 20 yards later it was Warnecke who would cash in for the 3rd time in the game, this time from 4 yards out to run the Bluffton deficit to 21-0 early in the 4th.

Clay Wilson provided the only marker of the contest for Bluffton as his 11 yard touchdown run as time expired capped off a 14 play 82 yard drive that covered the final 7:04 of the contest. As time had expired and there was a 15 point difference, there was no extra point attempt.

With the win the Columbus Grove Bulldogs end their regular season at 6-4 overall with a 5-2 mark in the NWC. Bluffton sees their 2 game winning streak snapped and finishes 3-7 on the season (1-6 in NWC contests). Grove will play next at home as they will host a home playoff contest that you can hear live on www.zsportslive.com once it is announced who they will play.

Joey Warnecke finished the night with 200 yards rushing for Columbus Grove and now has 1260 yards and 16 touchdowns in his last regular season go around with the Bulldogs.


Bluffton blanks Paulding

BLUFFTON, OHIO – Bluffton put a stop to a streak last week and started a new one this week.

Bluffton downed Paulding 48-0 for their first NWC win of the season Friday night and put themselves in the win column for a second straight week by not doing any one thing great but rather a lot of things well.

Offensively the Pirates got it going early on their first possession with a 43 yard run by Robbie Stratton, however Clay Wilson made a rare miscue on the evening as he coughed up the football and the Panthers pounced on it at their own 20 to begin their second possession.

3 and outs were the norm for Paulding in the contest, and their second possession would end exactly that way before Bluffton would capitalize and get on the scoreboard with the 25th passing touchdown of the season from QB Mitchell Ault from 27 yards to Stratton that put the Pirates up 7-0 following an extra point from Kaleb Jefferson.

Paulding would respond on the ensuing drive of the game with a well designed 9 play drive, but would turn it over on downs following an incomplete pass on 4th down at the Bluffton 40. Clay Wilson finished off a 7 play Bluffton drive just six seconds into the second quarter with his first of two touchdowns on the night from 13 yards out that extended the Pirate lead to 14-0 early in the second stanza.

Wilson punched in his second touchdown on the night the next time Bluffton possessed the football just moments later, this time from 6 yards out to make it 21-0 Bluffton with 8:30 to go in the first half.

Austin Bricker, a Senior who came in on the night leading the Northwest Conference in receiving made his mark in the game on special teams as he put the home squad up 28-0 with a 45 yard punt return for a touchdown.

Offensively the Panthers came in averaging just 17 points per contest and without starting QB James Mourey. Filling in for Mourey for the second week in a row, Corbin Edwards would finish 7-15 for 64 yards, but his intended pass with 3:32 left in the first half would be ruled a lateral and as such a fumble that Dustin Falk promptly returned 60 yards for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 35-0 before the break.

Following a Sam Crisp interception and 4 yard return, the Pirates offense was on the field again quickly, and just as quickly into the endzone. Devin Lugibuhl got his first touchdown of the night as he burst into the Paulding endzone from 6 yards out just 28.4 seconds before the half to give Bluffton a 42-0 lead going into the lockerroom.

With the running clock in the second half, the Pirates would only get two possessions in the second half, but would make the most of both. On their first possession of the 3rd quarter the Pirates took 8:07 to go from their 48 yard line into the endzone, this time with Dylan Alt doing the duty in getting in on a 3 yard rush to cap off a 9 play drive. Kaleb Jefferson would miss his only extra point of the evening, so the Bluffton lead would stay at 48-0.

An impressive 11 play drive by Paulding had the Panthers inside the Bluffton 20 yard line, but a fumble that was recovered by Wilson would prove to be too much. Bluffton would run off the final 7:23 on the Harmon Field scoreboard to claim their first NWC victory under 1st year Head Coach Kyle Cutnaw.

With the win the Pirates improve their record to 3-6 on the year, 1-5 in NWC play while Paulding drops to 1-8 and 0-6 in league play.

Mitchell Ault completed 6 of 9 passes for 98 yards on the evening and also caught a pass from Robbie Stratton for 24 yards. Stratton finished with 3 catches for 49 yards to go along with 2 carries for 52 yards in the game. Paulding offensively was held to 139 yards while the Pirates amassed 324 total yards with 130 of those coming through the air for the 2nd ranked passing attack in the NWC.

Bluffton will play host to 5-4 Columbus Grove next Friday night in a game you can hear live with myself and Steve Wiener on www.zsportslive.com while Paulding will host the Crestview Knights who were dealt their 2nd NWC loss at the hands of Grove 26-13 tonight.


Pirates sink Pioneers

BLUFFTON, OHIO – Bluffton started slow but finished with a flurry Saturday night against Western Reserve Academy.

Western Reserve Academy out of Hudson, Ohio came in averaging over 40ppg in their 6 contests this season while Bluffton came in on a 6 game losing streak so it obvious that something would have to give when the two kicked off at Harmon Field.

Kendall Anderson, the leading Pioneers rusher on the season got things going for Western Reserve on their first drive as he scampered in from 5 yards out to put WRA up 7-0 just :54 into the contest. Teammate Maison Cunningham had the most impressive run of the first WRA possession as he blew by the Pirate defenders up the sideline 62 yards on just the second play from scrimmage in the game, he would finish with 80 yards on 5 carries.

On their first possession of the game the Pirates utilized a strong passing game but fell short on their 11th play of a 5:36 drive as a 4th down pass fell incomplete and gave the ball back to Western Reserve Academy.

Following a punt, Bluffton would get the football back and get on the scoreboard as Clay Wilson scored on a 9 yard rush to even up the game at 7 with :13 to go in the first stanza.

It took just two plays for Western Reserve to respond as they went 80 yards in 24 seconds and again it was Anderson doing the damage as he scampered right through the heart of the Pirates defense for a 75 yard touchdown run that had his Pioneers on top 13-7 following a missed extra point. Anderson would finish with 135 yards on 11 carries and the two aforementioned touchdowns.

Despite trailing 13-7, the Pirates never gave up and would go on to score 54 straight points en route to a huge win that snapped their 6 game losing skid dating back to Week 1 this year when they defeated Cory Rawson 49-0.

Mitchell Ault would throw 3 touchdown passes on the night to increase his season total to 24, with 2 of those coming to Austin Bricker. Bricker’s first touchdown catch of the game came with 7:19 left in the first half and would put Bluffton ahead 14-13 for good as he caught a quick pass and scampered 28 yards to the endzone. A 48 yard pass on 1st down following a Pioneers punt would be all the Senior WR would need to put up 6 more points as again he flew to the endzone following a quick pass from Ault. Dustin Falk got in on the scoring action for Bluffton before the half with a 41 yard touchdown run as the Pirates lead ballooned to 28-13 at the break.

By virtue of winning the coin toss before the game, the Pirates chose to defer to the 2nd half which would give them the football to open the 3rd quarter, a great call by the staff as an 8 play 67 yard drive was punctuated by Kaleb Jefferson’s 1 yard touchdown run. With the run the Pirates lead ran up to 34-13 as Jefferson was not able to convert on the extra point.

Dylan Alt, a 5’11, 165 runningback scored on a 13 yard pass play from Mitchell Ault on the 3rd play of the next Pirate drive would up the score to 41-13 Bluffton with just 4:19 to go in the 3rd before Alt would get Bluffton the ball right back with an interception of Western Reserve QB Colt Roe on the first play of the ensuing drive. Jefferson waltzed into the endzone again for Bluffton, this time on the 5th play of the drive to cap off a 25 yard drive, this time from 3 yards out to put Bluffton ahead 47-13 when a botched snap led to a missed two point conversion.

Clay Wilson would add a 13 yard touchdown run, his 2nd on the next Bluffton possession following a Falk interception of Roe near the end of the 3rd that saw the Pirates go ahead 54-13 with 11:43 to go in the contest. Time would not be a factor for Bluffton in this game as they were able to trigger the 30+ point running clock rule instituted by the OHSAA this season,

Brady Basinger finished off the games scoring with under 2 minutes to go as the reserve runningback bowled himself in from 20 yards out to provide the final margin of 61-13 and give Bluffton their first home win of the season.

With the win the Pirates improve to 2-6 overall whole the Pioneers drop to 5-2 on the season.

Bluffton will play host to 1-7 Paulding next Friday night as both teams will be looking for their 1st NWC win. You can hear that game as it happens live on www.zsportslive.com with myself and Steve Wiener. Western Reserve meanwhile will travel to Saltsburg, Pennsylvania to take on 4-3 Kiski School and coach James Perry whom they defeated 36-7 last season.

Austin Bricker finished with the biggest night for the Pirates as he hauled in 5 catches from Ault for 132 yards and 2 td’s and was an easy choice for Zsportslive.com player of the game.

Final Score
Final Score