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10-21-02: Riders punish Dogs with the run in Battle of Grand Lake
Sports Editor
    ST. MARYS - Coming into the game, Celina and St. Marys had glaring weaknesses on the defensive side of the football as the Bulldogs couldn't stop the run and the Roughriders couldn't stop the pass.
    The running game continued to haunt the Bulldogs while the pass defense was excellent for the Roughriders as St. Marys rolled to a convincing 36-0 win over Celina in the Battle of Grand Lake.
    The St. Marys offensive line was the story of the game as the Roughriders battered and bruised the Celina defense for 378 yards rushing in a one-dimensional offense.
    The Roughriders didn't complete a pass all game, and they didn't have
to, as Justin Nagel and Shawn Craft ran wild through the gaping holes in the Bulldogs' run defense.
    Nagel carried the ball 24 times for 195 yards and one score while Shawn Craft added 18 touches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
    "St. Marys came off the ball on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, controlled the line of scrimmage and basically kicked our butts," said Celina head coach Mike Fell. "Coach Frye did a great job with his team and they came out ready to play. We had a feeling that they would be able to move the ball on us because teams have run the ball on us all year."
    "Our sweep is something that we haven't run very well all season and that is one of our trademark plays, so it was nice to see us be able to do that tonight," said St. Marys head coach Doug Frye. "Once we got the sweep to work, that opened up everything else in our rushing game. Our backs ran the ball hard and our offensive line had its best game of the year up front opening holes."
    The St. Marys dominance didn't stop on offense as the Roughriders defense held the potentially dangerous Celina offense to its worst game of
the year.
    Celina managed only 111 yards of total offense in the game, as neither the running game or the passing game could get untracked.
    St. Marys controlled the line of scrimmage allowing just 44 yards rushing while the Roughriders pass defense, worst in the WBL statistically, allowed Celina just 67 yards through the air on 8-of-20 passing.
    "Their secondary did a nice of job of covering people back there and frustrated our quarterback," noted Fell.
    "Our defense did a nice job of making plays and changing momentum in our favor in the game," said Frye. "We felt that their quarterback (Joe Kanney) was too good of a quarterback to let him stand back there and throw the ball so we tried to put some pressure on him. Our secondary did a good job of not giving up the big play and did an excellent job overall."
    As lopsided as the final score was, Celina had its chance early in the game on offense but was unable to cash in.
    Midway through the first quarter with the game still scoreless, Celina recovered a St. Marys fumble at the Roughriders 20-yard line.
    Two passes to Tim Homan and a run by Brady Bonifas moved the ball down to the St. Marys six-yard line before Brian Gagle ran a reverse and fumbled the ball near the goal line which was recovered by the Roughriders at the two-yard line.
    Early in the second quarter, St. Marys took over on offense from its own 44-yard line and marched down the field in eight plays covering 56 yards for the games first score.
    Nagel and Craft were the workhorses on the drive, covering all 56 yards including a six-yard touchdown by Nagel on a sweep to take a 6-0 lead.
    In the second quarter, St. Marys began to take control of the line of scrimmage and the game by relying on Nagel carrying the ball. Nagel gained 109 yards on 12 carries in the second quarter alone.
    Nagel's yardage didn't turn into points, though, as St. Marys held just a 6-0 advantage at halftime.
    The second half would be a different story as the St. Marys running game seemed to wear the Celina defense down as the Roughriders scored on all four of their second-half possessions.
    St. Marys' Nicholas Yahl set up the Roughriders first score of the second half as he intercepted a Celina passing attempt in the flats and returned it 40 yards to the Bulldogs' 25-yard line.
    Five plays later, Craft took the handoff and hit paydirt from one-yard out for a touchdown and after a Nagel two-point run, St. Marys held a 14-0 lead.
    "That was a big momentum swing for them when they intercepted the pass and scored right away in the second half," admitted Fell. "From that point on, they just rolled."
    On the ensuing kickoff, Celina's Andy Klosterman fielded the ball as one of the upbacks and fumbled on the play as St. Marys picked up the loose ball at the Bulldogs' 25-yard line.
    Another five-play drive covering 25 yards was capped by Corey Vossler's six-yard touchdown run. Vossler ran a quarterback sneak up the middle on a third-and-one play and then found an opening on the outside and scampered in the endzone for a score to give the Roughriders a 22-0 lead following Craft's two-point conversion run.
    Celina tried some trickery on its next possession, executing a fake punt
for a first down before a costly interception set up St. Marys' next score.
Looking for the big play, Joe Kanney threw the ball to Gagle behind the line of scrimmage, who then looked deep down the field when Roughriders cornerback Adam Chiles picked off the errant pass at the St. Marys 20-yard line.
    St. Marys then marched down the field on 11 plays before Craft scored on a two-yard run to blow the game open at 29-0 in favor of the Roughriders.
    Even when St. Marys went to its bench, the results were still the same.
With just over 5:00 remaining in the game, St. Marys went to the bench and brought in Zach Menker (quarterback), Matthew Helmstetter (running back) and Jared Ackley (running back) to spearhead the Roughriders running game.
    Helmstetter highlighted the seven-play drive with a 45-yard run before
Menker scored from one-yard out to conclude the scoring in the game.
    "From week four on, this is the closest and most cohesive group of kids that I have had in along time," said Frye.
    Celina is back in action at home on Friday against Van Wert while St. Marys will look to win its fourth straight on the road at Defiance.


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