Saturday, October 13th, 2007
By Ryan Hines
'Dogs go for two in OT for win at Bath
Gagle and Sams connect twice in the overtime on the way to dramtic victory
LIMA - Celina head coach Jerry Harris called it a "battle of two evenly-matched teams," and it played out that way on Friday night when his Bulldogs visited Lima Bath for a Western Buckeye League tilt.
A daring call by Harris to go for a two-point conversion in overtime and perfect execution on the play gave Celina its second straight victory, a 22-21 win over the Wildcats.
Derek Gagle found Zach Sams open in the end zone on a game-tying touchdown pass and game-winning two-point conversion in overtime lifting the Bulldogs to the come-from-behind win.
"First off, the offensive line did a great job of giving me time and without them I wouldn't have been able to find Sams on either of the passes," said Gagle. "It's a big win for this team and it was a team win."
Sams, in his first game back from a leg injury that kept him out of action for a few weeks, was happy to be back on the field with his teammates and to make a contribution.
"I've never had a better feeling in my entire life as this, and it feels great to be able to celebrate it with a great group of guys that we have," said Sams. "It feels great to get back on the field because it has been tough watching the guys battle on the sidelines."
After watching Bath (1-7, 1-6 WBL) take a 21-14 lead with a one-yard touchdown run by Brandon Mohr and then Matt Louden split the uprights on the PAT kick, Celina went on the charge.
On second-and-eight from the 18-yard line, Gagle rolled to his left and threw a perfect strike over the Bath defensive backs to a leaping Sams, who stands 6-3, in the back of the end zone and the Bulldog receiver hauled in the pass for the touchdown.
"It was full extension on the play, but the ball hit me in the hands and it was a great pass," said Sams, who added he got both feet inbounds on the play, although one would have been good enough for it to be a TD in high school football.
Following the touchdown, the Celina PAT unit came onto the field, but Harris had other ideas and called timeout.
"When we scored our kick team just ran onto the field and we had a hell of a time getting someone's attention so we could call a timeout," said Harris. "It wasn't a change of heart. Our kicker hadn't kicked since the pregame warmups and that was in the back of my mind and I didn't think that kicking the game was a given tonight. I thought that we had just as good a chance to run a play as we did to kick it. I think that a lot of other coaches would have made the same decision, with being on the road. On the road, I think that you better take your chances while you can.
Following the timeout, the Bulldogs' offense trotted onto the field prompting a Bath timeout.
When play finally resumed, Gagle took the snap, rolled left and when he was hit by the Bath defense, the left-handed Bulldogs QB found Sams open in the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion.
"He (Gagle) had three options on the play with running it and two receivers in the end zone and it was an athletic play to make the play that was made," said Harris.
Celina's offense struggled mightily in the first three quarters of play. Not only were the Bulldogs shut out through the first 36 minutes of play, the Green and White also handed two points to Bath when Kelby Rosengarten was tackled in the end zone for a safety on a counter play from the two-yard line.
The safety, in addition to a one-yard touchdown run by Brandon Mohr in the first quarter, gave Bath an 8-0 lead that stood strong until the fourth quarter.
Celina got the spark it needed in the fourth quarter. After a Gagle interception in the end zone gave Bath the ball at its own 20-yard line, Gavin Painter fumbled on the very next play and Celina's standout linebacker Cole Schaffner made the recovery.
An Alex Dues 15-yard run on a dive helped set up a four-yard TD run by Schaffner at the 10:34 mark closing the gap to 8-6 after a run failed on a two-point conversion.
On Celina's next possession, the Bulldogs hit paydirt again and it took 5:20 to do so. Celina marched 79 yards on 13 plays with Gagle racing around the corner for a three-yard touchdown giving the Bulldogs the lead for the first time at 12-8. Gagle hooked up with Sams on a pass as the Bulldogs went for two increasing the lead for Celina to 14-8 with 1:01 left in the contest.
"We struggled badly in the first half and into the third quarter, but we kept fighting and finally got it rolling late in the game," said Sams.
Things looked bleak for Bath at that point and Harris even admitted that he thought the game was over following the Celina TD.
"First of all, I thought the game was over when we went up with the touchdown with just a minute to go in the game," noted Harris. "That quarterback just took them down the field, just like that."
Bath had other ideas though as they marched 62 yards in nine plays behind Mohr, the backup Wildcats quarterback that entered the game after the first series of the night.
Mohr completed passes of 11, 18 and 15 yards to get into the red zone before running 16 yards to the two-yard line. A loss of two on a run and two straight incompletions set up a four-and-four situation from the four-yard line with four seconds left on the clock and Mohr raced to the end zone to tie the game at 14-14. Bath had a chance to win it with an accurate PAT kick, but Louden's boot was way low and off the mark forcing overtime.
Harris was impressed with what Bath was able to do with a backup QB in the game.
"We've played without our starting quarterback before too and I was really impressed with what they were able to do when their first-string guy went out," said Harris.
Celina (2-6, 2-5 WBL) returns home for the final two weeks of the season with WBL co-leader Ottawa-Glandorf coming to town on Friday.
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