Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
The Cavaliers-Irish game in 2000 rewrote the record book
2000 Division IV State Final Flashback
By Gary R. Rasberry
The last time Coldwater tangled with Youngstown Ursuline in a state championship game, it turned out to be a game that would be talked about along with other great state championship games.
While many Cavalier fans may only remember the Cavaliers falling 49-37 to the Irish at Fawcett Stadium on that Dec. 1 day in 2000, the game continues to be spoke about around the state. It was even brought up during Monday's statewide media teleconference.
Coldwater coach John Reed and then-Ursuline coach Jim Vivo both said in the pregame interviews in 2000 that they hoped the game would be anything but a shootout.
But a shootout is exactly what it was. At least a half-dozen state records fell in the game as the pass-friendly Cavs took on the run-heavy Irish.
The game featured 1,045 yards of offense, 42 first downs and plenty of big-time performances and plays that are still talked about today by those who played and those who watched that incredible game.
"Obviously, when all the guys get together, we talk about it," said Kyle Hoyng, senior quarterback/defensive back of the Cavaliers and Division IV state Co-Offensive Player of the Year that season. "Unfortunately, we didn't win the game, but looking back and looking at the competition we played against, they are some pretty impressive numbers."
The game started even, with the Irish and Cavaliers matching touchdowns in the first quarter. Early in the second, Jeff Pax booted a 21-yard field goal to give Coldwater what would be its only lead at 10-7.
Then Delbert Ferguson made his presence known.
Ferguson, who later played at the University of Cincinnati, scored the first of a Division V state final record five rushing touchdowns to pace the Irish.
The 1-2 rushing attack of Ferguson and Terrence Graves, who later went to the University of Toledo, racked up the rushing numbers. Ferguson set a Division IV state final record with 280 yards and five touchdowns in the game while Graves added 219 yards and the other two touchdowns as the Irish finished with 502 yards rushing as a team.
"I remember them running up and down the field," said Reed during Monday's statewide teleconference. "We couldn't tackle them is what I remember from that game, more than anything else."
"It seemed like we'd come back and get a little momentum and put a drive up, they'd run come right back and just run it down our throat," said wide receiver/defensive back Matt Bruns, a first-team all-Ohio selection in 2000. "Coaches were making every adjustment possible. It seemed like we couldn't do anything to slow them down."
The Irish led 21-17 at the half and raised it to 28-17 early in the third quarter on a Graves 5-yard run.
"I never felt we were out of a game," said Bruns. "We played games like that early in the year like Kenton. We got down early against Kenton and fought our way back. In the playoffs against Sandusky Perkins, we had a big lead, then lost it and came back again. We never thought we were out of the game."
With the running game held down, Coldwater looked to crank up the passing game. In addition to regular receivers Bruns, Doug Borger and Craig Schwieterman, Hoyng found another, and bigger, weapon in 6-5 back Tyler Vogel.
Vogel became a regular catching option for Hoyng, having a size and speed advantage on the linebackers he was going up against. Vogel caught three touchdowns passes - to go along with an early rushing touchdown that helped the Cavaliers stay close through the game.
Vogel finished with the Division IV state final records for most receptions (12) and receiving yards (177).
"Going into the game, we didn't know if we could run it well to begin with," said Vogel, who went on to play football at Miami University. "We did have some early success on the first drive. Once we figured out we could throw the ball on them, we pretty much drove down the field on them.
"I remember a few times running down the field and no one within 10 yards of me. Obviously, with a quarterback like Kyle, we could do a lot of damage."
Hoyng threw for 422 yards and set a record for most completions in going 28-for-47.
"Well, once the game got going, I think everybody on the offense knew we would have to score every time we got the ball if we wanted to win the game," said Hoyng. "We were fortunate to have a 6-5 guy (Vogel) in a slot position and matched up against outside linebackers and safeties, which in high school football, ends up being a mismatch.
"When we had Bruns on the outside with his size and speed, we were able to, when they looked to stop Tyler, we were able to look him off and focus on Bruns with one-on-one coverage from the outside."
Coldwater got back to within five at 28-23 when Borger ran it in from two yards out. Ferguson came back in the fourth quarter with a 41-yard run-in to make it 35-23, only to have Coldwater snap back as Hoyng found Vogel for his second TD reception of the game to cut it back to five.
The pattern would continue. Ferguson would run for a touchdown to put the Irish back up in double digits, only to have Coldwater come back with an answer.
With just under 2 1/2 minutes left, Ferguson put in the final nail, setting a state Division IV final record with a 68-yard scoring run that made it 49-37.
"Watching them on film, you can't get a real good understanding of how big, fast and strong they were," said Vogel. "When you see them in real life, they're a lot different than on film. The biggest surprise for me, with them being freshmen and sophomores, is how big and fast they were."
"We just kept plugging away and trying to do our best" said Bruns, who finished with 104 yards receiving on seven catches. "We just ran out of time. At the end, Kyle got stopped at the one-yard line (on fourth-and-goal with 50 seconds left in the game). When we were out on the field, we thought we were going to score that time, on-side kick and get the ball back. Never thought we were out of it."
Current Ursuline coach Dan Reardon, who was in the stands at Fawcett Stadium for the game, remembered the game well.
"I was at the game and it goes down as one of the great state championship games in history," said Reardon. "Very high-scoring game, back and forth. Kind of contrasting styles."
"Whenever we get together, if we're talking about football, we're talking about that game," said Hoyng. "It gets brought up. For the most part, we were happy about how we performed on the field. I don't know if we could have done anything else to change the outcome, so we look at it from that aspect. We feel pretty good about ourselves.
"But there's still that little part of 'What if?' ... Maybe the outcome would have been a little different."