Saturday, September 6th, 2008
By Ryan Hines
Fake field goal pushes St. Marys past Celina
ST. MARYS - Celina played its best half of football this season in the first half against St. Marys, but it still wasn't enough to keep the Roughriders from winning the 10th straight game in the Battle of Grand Lake.
St. Marys trailed 20-7 at halftime, but the Roughriders dominated play in the second half scoring 18 unanswered points for a 25-20 victory in Western Buckeye League action, with the winning score coming on a trick play with just 1:05 left on the clock in the fourth quarter.
The Roughriders were lined up for a potential game-winning 21-yard field goal, but St. Marys holder Jake Taylor, also the quarterback, dropped the snap on purpose and scrambled for a few seconds before hitting Paul Lauth with a four-yard touchdown pass to put St. Marys on top 25-20 with just over a minute to play in the game.
It's the second straight year that the Roughriders (3-0, 2-0 WBL) handed the Bulldogs (0-3, 0-2 WBL) a defeat late in the fourth quarter, as St. Marys won last year's matchup 13-7 with a 34-yard touchdown pass as time expired a season ago at Celina Stadium.
"They made a big play at the end, just like they did last year to win a close game and you have to give them credit for it," said Celina head coach Jared Rolfes. "When I talked to them after the game, I didn't know what to say to them. I was proud of how hard they played, but that doesn't justify a loss. We had a chance to get them, and we didn't, but that's the nature of it (football)."
St. Marys head coach Doug Frye had a simple explanation as to why he went with the fake field goal late in the game.
"I had all the faith in the world that Danny Roberts was going to make the kick, but we've had a little trouble with the snap, and I was concerned with the snap, so at the last minute, I decided to put it in Jake's hands," said Frye.
The Taylor to Lauth game-winning TD capped a St. Marys drive that went 16 plays covering 93 yards while chewing up 6:47 off the game clock.
With just over a minute left in the game, St. Marys kicked the ball back to Celina, but the kickoff bounced off the chest of Celina's Caleb Wilson and was recovered by St. Marys. The Roughriders then kneeled on two straight plays to close out the game.
It was vintage St. Marys football in the second half as the Roughriders had four possessions and scored on three of those opportunities, with the lone exception being the back-to-back kneel downs on the final possession in the final minute of play.
"First off, I think that Celina played an exceptional game tonight," said Frye. "What made me the most proud of our kids was the way that they stepped up in the second half, because it was tough in here at halftime. The effort was just much better on our side in the second half. I told them that they had to play harder in the second half or they were going to get beat and the kids responded. Our biggest adjustment at halftime was just that we had to play harder."
The second half was a struggle for Celina as the Bulldogs could only must 45 yards of offense in the final two quarters of play after picking up 227 yards in the first half.
"I think what happened in the second half, primarily, was that we started to get a little tired," said Rolfes. "We had four and sometimes five guys playing both ways and I think because of that, we got tired on both sides of the ball. We got tired and pushed around a little bit in the second half."
The first half was nearly all Celina as the Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points after a St. Marys touchdown in the first quarter on a Lauth 13-yard pass from Taylor.
Celina scored its first points with 59 seconds left in the first quarter when Jamarcus Davis caught a middle screen from Derek Gagle and then broke a tackle at the five-yard line before crossing the goal line from 11 yards away.
It was like deja vu for Celina fans at the 1:39 mark of the second quarter as Davis caught another middle screen from Gagle and broke another tackle, this time for a 22-yard touchdown reception.
Celina caught a break on the ensuing kickoff as St. Marys' Cory Dammeyer fumbled (for the second time in the first half) on the return with the Bulldogs' Matt Peterson recovering the ball at the Roughriders' 39-yard line. The Bulldogs cashed in on the St. Marys turnover as Alex Dues capped a three-play drive with a beautiful 29-yard run for a touchdown after using a devastating stiff arm to elude one tackler and then broke another tackle behind the line of scrimmage before racing to the end zone.
"In the first half we played the way that we wanted to play," said Rolfes. "We were able to put 20 points on the board and that's where we wanted to be at the half. We're getting better and we'll keep pushing it until we get that first victory."
St. Marys closed the deficit to 20-13 on its first possession of the second half with a 14-play drive, all running plays, that covered 66 yards with Jeremy Frey crossing the goal line from the two-yard line.
The Roughriders then made it 20-19 when Taylor hit Frey and Aaron Homan for gains of 25 and 24 yards which led to a 13-yard touchdown run by Homan at the 11:33 mark of the fourth quarter.
St. Marys rushed for 171 yards in the second half (249 for the game) and the Roughriders were led by Frey's 130 yards on 23 carries while Homan added 81 yards on 14 totes. Taylor went 8-of-16 through the air for a career-high 138 yards and the two scoring tosses to Lauth.
Gagle was 10-of-17 through the air for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but the lefthander went just 3-of-10 in the second half for 34 yards and the second of his two interceptions. Blake Moran, who also recovered a fumble while playing defense, led the Bulldog receivers with six catches for 83 yards.
Celina returns home on Friday to host Van Wert while St. Marys will travel to face Defiance.
NOTE - After the game, there wasn't a shaking of hands between the two teams, leading to a chorus of boos from the St. Marys fan section.
"The problem was that they walked away and were so worried about what they were doing, they didn't get into line (to shake hands)," said Rolfes. "That wasn't me being rude, they walked away to the other side and we sat there for a few seconds and nobody came, so we just left the field. I wasn't trying to be bitter or upset about anything, but if they aren't going to get into line and shake our hands and be classy about it, we were going to go to our lockerroom. That's the bottom line."
Frye said his team just got wrapped up in the excitement of winning the rivalry game.
"I walked across the field and shook hands with coach Rolfes, and I sought him out, and I didn't even recognize it until Celina was almost off the field," said Frye. "Our kids were excited on their way out to shake their hands."
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