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Saturday, September 13th, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Coldwater defense stymies Marion Local
COLDWATER - Apparently, turnabout is fair play for the Coldwater Cavaliers.
After having their home field and conference winning streaks snapped last year at the hands of the Marion Local Flyers, the Cavaliers did a little snapping of their own Friday night at Cavalier Stadium.
Despite falling behind by two scores early, Coldwater broke Marion Local's 30-game winning streak with a 33-14 victory courtesy of a dominant defensive effort and some big-play offensive fireworks.
Coldwater improves to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, while Marion falls to 3-1 on the year and 1-1 in conference play.
This battle was hyped to the max, with media outlets from all over the state and an exuberant crowd that made for an extra special 50/50 pot. Even if those in attendance didn't see a crisp display of fundamental football, they saw a little bit of everything.
The first eight minutes all went Marion's way, as the visitors opened the game with a long drive deep into Coldwater territory. A fourth-and-three conversion kept the drive alive but the hosts' defense stiffened and Marion turned the ball over on downs at the five-yard line.
On the Cavaliers' ensuing possession, Troy Prenger stepped in front of a Cory Klenke pass and sprinted 42 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Flyers a quick 7-0 advantage. History quickly repeated itself on the hosts' next drive, but this time it was the Flyers' Marcus Moeller picking off a Klenke heave and going 35 yards for another score.
Thus eight minutes into the game, the upstart Flyers held a 14-0 lead and the home stands were silent.
The Coldwater side didn't stay quiet for long, though.
Tony Harlamert took the ensuring kickoff at his own two-yard line and didn't stop until he had gone 98 yards to paydirt to put the momentum back on the Cavaliers' side.
Coldwater looked ready to tie things back up after Marion fumbled deep in its own territory. Prenger came up big again, though, as the senior snared his second interception of the night to snuff out the Cavaliers' drive.
Things settled down a little for awhile, and Coldwater went on its first sustained drive of the night. Three penalties bogged down the drive a little at the end, but Maria de la Rosa came on to boot a 32-yard field goal to make the score 14-10.
The hosts got another shot late in the second quarter, and they struck quickly. Harlamert started the drive with a 26-yard run, then on a third-and-one play, Klenke dropped back and hit Zach Siefring in stride for a 43-yard scoring strike. After digging themselves a major hole, the Cavaliers were back on top 17-14 going into halftime.
An interception on Marion's first drive of the second half set up Coldwater in good field position, but it took a trick play to reach the end zone. Facing a fourth-and-eight, Klenke tossed the ball backward to Keith Wenning at the wideout spot and Wenning pitched it back on a quarterback throwback. Klenke raced up the sideline and didn't stop until he hit the end zone 24 yards later.
The Cavaliers busted things wide open midway through the fourth. With the punt unit on, Wenning took the direct snap and waited patiently for Dusty Rutschilling to come open. The senior caught the pass and gained 28 yards on the play to extend the drive. Three plays later, Klenke found Zach Kaup on an out-route for a 10-yard touchdown that capped the scoring.
In the midst of all the turnovers and trick plays, the one thing that stood out the most was the Coldwater defense. After allowing five first downs in the first quarter, the Cavaliers didn't surrender another one until Marion's final drive late in the fourth quarter.
"The defense was just unbelievable," said Coldwater coach John Reed. "Coach (Tim) Hoyng just does an unbelievable job with those kids. We had to make a lot of adjustments and they didn't give up any points. Our defensive line has been our strength all along and we didn't really expect that because we only have one starter back."
Marion coach Tim Goodwin could only tip his hat to the Coldwater defense for the fits it gave his offense.
"The bottom line is that we couldn't move the ball," said Goodwin. "Our defense hung in there like we thought it would, but the key was what our offense could do. Our offense is based on running the ball and passing off that, but we couldn't run it consistently."
Klenke had a strange stat line, as he threw five interceptions but also tossed for two touchdowns and caught another one. Reed said that he never lost confidence in his senior signal caller.
"Cory's a tough kid and he was a little bit down on himself," said Reed. "But we kept reminding him that this is how life is, and sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. We're proud of him and the way he battled back."
Both teams face key games against unbeaten opponents next week, as Marion will host St. Henry and Coldwater travels to Anna.
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