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The Daily



10-11-03: Tigers on top alone in MAC


VERSAILLES — The battle of top teams lived up to the hype.
A packed-in crowd around H.B. Hole Field saw the top two teams in not only Division IV but also the Midwest Athletic Conference go toe-to-toe for 48 minutes.
Coldwater took the early lead but saw Versailles recover from a rocky first half start to score twice within four minutes in the third quarter winning the Battle of Orange, 12-10.
The win puts the Tigers alone on top of the MAC with a 6-0 record, improves the team to 8-0 overall and will more than likely place them on the top spot in the Associated Press football poll next week. Coldwater, the team that held the top spot, drops to 7-1 and 5-1.
“The kids were resilient,” said veteran Versailles coach Al Hetrick. “They came out and played a lot better in the second half. They made the plays when they needed to.”
Trailing 10-0 at the half, Versailles had to kickoff to the Cavaliers to start the third quarter. The kickoff went to Ross Homan, who had two returns for touchdowns this season. Homan broke through some tackles and headed for a third return touchdown but Alan Phlipot made the safety stop at the 31-yard line to prevent a touchdown.
The play was huge as Coldwater lost the ball three plays later on a fumble, allowing some breathing room for the Tigers.
After a trading of punts, Versailles made its charge. Kyle Gehle took a second-and-nine snap at the 50-yard line and ran the draw. Gehle broke a pair of tackles and sprinted toward the end zone to get the Tigers on the board. The extra kick was well short, putting the Tigers down 10-6 with 7:07 left in the quarter .
Coldwater tried to counter quickly as quarterback Alex Hoyng moved the team down to the Tiger 33. On second-and-four, Hoyng looked for Craig Wellman but found Versailles’ Ben Shappie instead for the first of three second-half interceptions from the Cavalier senior.
Versailles went full house in the backfield to get some additional yardage on the ground before coming up with a third-and-six from the Tiger 35. Gehle showed the handoff to Shappie and rolled out to find Ryan McNeilan for the pass. McNeilan shook off his defender and scored on the 65-yard pass play with 3:25 remaining in the third. Versailles tried to go for two but Coldwater kept its hopes alive by tackling Gehle as he tried to run in.
“We got two big plays in on him with the run and pass for touchdowns,” said Hetrick. “We played tough defense for the whole game, really. We just told them at halftime that (Coldwater) was running patterns quicker than we are, running harder than we are, hitting harder than we are and look where we’re at. Let’s go out and show them we can do that.
“The kids went out in the second half and turned the tables. ... We told the seniors that it was their game.”
Coldwater continued to try and get back on top of the score but the Versailles defense began to pick up intensity. Shappie added another interception later and Phlipot picked off one of his own. Coldwater’s defense, after the four-minute hiccup in the third, bore down on the Tigers and tried to get the ball back but the Tigers exclusively ran the ball the rest of the game. Gehle was sacked five of his eight times after his touchdown run as the Tigers could not get another score to ice the game.
“Tim (Coldwater defensive coordinator Tim Hoyng) said all week ‘I’ve got to find a way to keep them to three scores,’” said Coldwater coach John Reed. “Because if we could hold them to two (scores), we could get three. Obviously we weren’t able to do that.”
What the Tiger defense could not do, Bart Schmitz did. The senior punter punted five times and averaged a staggering 48.4 yards per kick, getting punts of 55 and 60 along the way.
Schmitz’s last put allowed Coldwater to start from the 20 with 56 seconds left to try and stage a final score. Hoyng went deep into the bag of tricks on the opening play with a 10-yard pass to Kevin Brackman, who pitched the ball to Josh Fullenkamp for five more yards for a total of a 15-yard gain.
A spiked ball was followed up by an attempted tip play when Hoyng looked for Wellman, who tried to tip the ball to Jay Miller, but Shappie got in the middle of the play to knock the ball down. On third down, Hoyng found Trent Gerlach for a four-yard catch on the sidelines to set up fourth-and-six.
Hoyng looked for Wellman for the first down but the ball was short, allowing Versailles to take over and take the knee to end the game.
“Tremendous credit goes to Versailles for making those two big plays,” said Reed. “Our kids continued to battle the whole time. We weren’t able to make the play we needed to make in the second half. You have to give Versailles credit for that.”
Hoyng finished with a 17-of-32 night passing for 148 yards with three interceptions, all coming in the second half.
Shappie came up with 59 yards rushing as the four ball carriers for the Tigers — Shappie, McNeilan, Gehle and Eric Strausbaugh — combined for 164 yards.
Versailles travels to St. Henry on Friday as Coldwater hosts its final regular season home game with Fort Recovery.


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