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Bulldogs outlast Cougars in WBL clash PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, September 28, 2013 12:27 AM

Sean LaFontaine

DHI Correspondent

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ELIDA – The Van Wert Cougars played their closest game of the season Friday night in Elida but in the end the Bulldogs outlasted the Cougars in a Western Buckeye League shootout 41-34.

The two teams traded touchdowns the entire game. Elida drew first blood on their opening drive of the game but the Cougars responded with a drive of their own capped off by a touchdown pass from Colin Smith to Terrence Branson. Gavin Gardner added the extra point to tie the game at 7.

Early in the second quarter with the score 13-7, the Cougars took the lead on a one-yard run by Smith. A 44-yard pass from Smith to senior Michael Smelser highlighted the drive. Gardner’s extra point gave Van Wert the 14-13 lead with 8:30 left in the first half.

It only took Elida four plays to answer the Cougars score. The Bulldogs took back the lead on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Clark Etzler to Avery Sumpter. The extra point by Etzler made the score 20-14 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Elida further opened their lead after Smith threw an interception on the following Van Wert possession. Elida took advantage of the good field position and capped off the touchdown drive with an 8-yard pass from Etzler to Christian Moran. The extra point was added, leaving the score at 27-14.

Van Wert again responded, this time Smith found Branson for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 1:57 remaining in the half. The extra point made it 27-21, which stayed the score at halftime.

The teams continued to go back-and-fourth in the third quarter. Van Wert, down 41-27, was driving as the teams entered the fourth quarter. The Cougars capped off a 12-play drive that ate up just over six minutes of game time with a 1-yard touchdown run by Branson. The touchdown helped the Cougars pull within seven.

Van Wert was finally able to get the defensive stop they had been looking for most of the game. The Cougars got the ball back with 5:11 left to play in the game. After Van Wert gained 24 yards on three straight run played, their drive came to a screeching halt. A 4-yard loss on first down, a run for no gain on second down and two straight incompletions forced the Cougars to turn the ball back over to the Bulldogs.

Just when it looked like Elida was going to be able to run out the clock, the Bulldogs decided to put the ball in the air and defensive back Smelser was able to come up with a huge intercetipon for the Cougars. The pick gave Van Wert one last shot with 1:27 left to play in the game.

Smith completed a second-down pass to Smelser for a 17-yard gain; two plays later, Smith found Branson for a 22-yard gain taking the Cougars all the way down to the Bulldog 44-yard line.

After a 4-yard run by Smith and a completion from Smith to Smelser for six yards, the Cougers were down to the Elida 34-yard line with 33 seconds to play and two time outs remaining but that is as far as the Cougars got.

On the very next play, Bulldog defensive back Etzler picked off a throw from Smith to seal the game and give Elida the 41-34 victory.

The Cougars had their best offensive outing of the year, led by Smith who was 23-44 for 372 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Smelser led the receiving core with 9 catches for 66 yards and Branson wasn’t far behind with nine catches for 148 yards.

Tussing led the Cougar rushing attack with 16 rushed for 62 yards.

Even though the Cougars came up short, Van Wert head coach Keith Recker was pleased with his teams’ performance.

“We came in knowing we were going to have to throw the ball,” said Recker. “We thought there were going to be a few things there and there were and we did a good job of adjust when they adjusted. I thought this is the best we have played offensively since I’ve been here.”

With the victory, the Bulldogs move to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the Western Buckeye League.

The loss drops the Cougars to 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the WBL.


Score by Quarters

Elida 7 20 14 0 - 41

Van Wert 7 14 7 7 - 34


E - Seanqueez Frye 7 run (Clark Etzler kick) 6:47

VW - Terrence Branson 19 pass from Collin Smith (Gavin Gardner kick)


E - Etlzer 14 run - (kick failed) 10:58

VW - Smith1 run - (Gardner kick) 8:30

E - Avery Sumpter 16 pass from Ezler (Etzler kick) 6:57

E - Christian Moran 6 pass from Etzler (Etzler kick) 3:15

VW - Branson 28 pass from Smith (Gardner kick) 1:57


E - Frye 4 run (Etzler kick) 9:44

VW - Branson 25 pass from Smith (Gardner kick) 9:03

E - Frye 2 run (Etzler kick) 1:57


VW - Branson 6 run (Gardner kick) 7:38


Elida Van Wert

First Downs 17 25

Total yards 417 462

Rushes/Yards 39/240 35/90

Passing yards 177 372

Comps./Atts. 10/20 23/45

Intercepted by 2 3

Fumbles/Lost 1/0 1/0

Penalties/Yards 8/80 4/30

Punts/Aver. 2/35 1/37



RUSHING: Etzler 2-154. PASSING: Etzler 10-20-177-2-2.

RECEIVING: Sumpter 4-89, Moran 4-73


RUSHING: Justice Tussing 16-62, Branson 8-49.

PASSING: Smith 45-23-372-3-3.

RECEIVING: Michael Smelzer 9-166, Branson 10-149.


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