Saturday, November 19th, 2011
By Gary R. Rasberry
Coldwater advances to state semis for third straight year
Cavaliers' passing attack catches fire in the second half
PIQUA - Once Coldwater's offense got warmed up, West Jefferson's chances for an upset win cooled down.
Leading just 7-6 at halftime, the Cavaliers used two long touchdown passes from Austin Bruns to knock off the Roughriders 28-6 in the Division V Region 20 finals at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field in Piqua. It's the second straight year that Coldwater has ended West Jefferson's season in the regional finals.
Coldwater (10-3) advances to the state semifinals for a third straight season next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at a site to be announced on Sunday. The Cavaliers' opponent, barring any last-minute adjustment by the OHSAA, will be the Hicksville Aces, whom the Cavaliers beat 51-13 in Week Two. The Aces knocked off Patrick Henry 34-7 in the Region 18 final at Lima Stadium. West Jefferson ends its season at 10-3.
The Cavaliers had ample opportunities to put the game away in the first half, but a fumble at the Roughriders' 6-yard line cost them one chance for a score and then an interception late in the second quarter prevented the Cavaliers from going up 14-6.
"Offensively, we moved the ball really well," said Coldwater's coach Chip Otten. "The turnovers killed us. Two fumbles (one in each half) inside the 10 is frustrating. But we have to hang in there. We told them before the game this was going to be hard. Everybody wants to win. You have to be patient when things don't go well and keep moving forward."
West Jefferson made hay on its first possession, as quarterback Cody Williams used a mix of passes and runs to produce a 10-play drive that covered 80 yards, the final 38 coming when Williams lofted a TD pass to favorite target Ryan Love. The pass deflected off the Cavaliers' defender and right into Love's arms for the score. West Jefferson missed the PAT kick but still held a 6-0 advantage.
"It made the defense really mad because usually when they come out, we stop them right away," said Coldwater's senior defensive tackle Alan Kunk. "(West Jefferson) scoring actually made us play better, actually. We just got mad."
It took the Cavaliers until late in the second quarter to finally respond as Bruns began to find his rhythm. Bruns fired a pass to Caleb Siefring for a 31-yard gain on a third-and-eight to keep the drive going, then later connected on a 15-yard pass to Jordan Chapin on another third-and-eight. Bruns' 15-yard strike to Siefring made it 7-6 in favor of the Cavaliers after Troy Otten converted the PAT kick.
Coldwater's struggles to score in the first half were replaced by the big-play attack to start the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, Bruns fired a screen pass to Siefring, who kicked on the afterburners and sprinted for a 68-yard score for a 14-6 Coldwater lead.
The Cavaliers then took a 21-6 lead when Bruns went deep to the speedy Josh Huber, who snagged the pass for a 73-yard scoring play.
"Second half we went to some no-back (offensive sets) and got some good mismatches," said Otten. "Austin made some great throws and we caught them."
The Cavaliers' defense took over from there, forcing punts on the next two Roughriders' series. Then on the third series, Williams drove West Jeff to the Cavaliers' 26, but a tipped pass at the line was snagged by Kunk for an interception. Kunk's pick set up the final score as the Cavaliers' Drew Klosterman punched it in from four yards out for a 28-6 lead.
"I didn't know what to do, to be honest," said Kunk. "I just caught the ball and went down because I didn't want to fumble it."
"When we had the wind, we made them go 80," said Otten, referring to getting touchbacks on several kickoffs. "They got some first downs and the touchdown was a bit of a toss that was batted around and (Love) made a nice play. But, like I said before, you have to keep playing.
"We've been here before. We played so many good teams during the season. We had games where we've been behind and we've come back and just keep playing."
After forcing West Jefferson to turn the ball over on downs with seven minutes to go in the game, the Cavaliers kept the clock moving with runs by Klosterman and Chapin. Even though the Cavaliers were on the one-yard line late in the game, the orange and black simply took two knees rather than add to the lopsided final score.
Bruns had another blistering passing night, completing 13 of his 20 passes for 337 yards. Siefring caught four of the passes for 145 yards with Josh Huber tallying 115 yards on his four catches. Bruns also rushed the ball 15 times for 68 yards.
Williams, a 2,000-yard passer coming into the game, was 13-of-24 for 146 yards, with Love making five catches for 74 yards. The running game of the Roughriders was held to just 39 yards on 24 carries.
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