By RYAN HINES
Brian Gagle’s second touchdown pass of the season to Tim
Homan appeared to give Celina a tying score late in the third
quarter against Defiance on Friday night at Celina Stadium.
Defiance prevented the tie with a brilliant special teams play
as Nolan Killion blocked the ensuing extra-point kick and the
Blue and White Bulldogs handled things the rest of the way in
a 21-20 win over Celina.
Defiance improves to 6-2 overall on the season and 5-2 in the
Western Buckeye League while Celina falls to 4-4 overall and
3-4 in league play.
Special teams hasn’t been a strong point for Celina this
season and Defiance must have seen it on films when head coach
Jerry Buti called the play for his squad.
“We had Dan Orta (who weighs 340 yards) take on two guys
and then had Nolan come flying in to try and block the kick
behind him,” explained the Defiance mentor. “You
have to give Dan Orta credit for that play. He asked me in practice
why we never run our kick block play and I told him that’s
because I forget about the play. I didn’t forget about
it this week and it paid off. Dan cleared out the middle and
Nolan is quick and made a nice play.”
“We were so concerned with Orta (Dan) that we kind of
let a guy come right up the gut,” said a disappointed
Celina head coach Mike Fell after the game. “I’m
sure that it’s a play that they called from the sidelines
and they executed it very well.”
From that point on, the defenses for both teams dominated play.
Celina held strong on a goal line stand and forced one fumble
to contain Defiance but a late interception with 1:31 left in
the game by Brandon Gazarek put the game away for good.
Celina’s defense was strong against the WBL’s best
rushing offense allowing just 178 total yards and limiting Robert
Orta to 92 hard-earned yards on 26 carries.
Defiance wide receiver L.J. Helton was the difference in the
game until the fourth quarter when the senior wideout was injured
and taken off the field on a stretcher.
“L.J. is our go-to guy on our team and he has been here
starting for two years and those are the type of guys that you
go to in tight situations like we had tonight,” said Buti.
“He’s a pressure player that had some big plays
on catches. L.J. was always okay, it was a just a precautionary
move on our part.”
Helton certainly did his damage before the injury occurred as
he caught six passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Celina countered with its standout wide receiver, Tim Homan,
who caught six balls for 101 yards and two scores. Homan’s
first score on the night came on one of Celina’s three
successful trick plays.
Trailing 14-6 with 1:01 left in the second quarter, Gagle threw
a pass to Andy Harner near the sidelines, who then aired out
a pass down the sidelines to a wide open Homan who raced 60
yards for a score. Gagle ran the ball in for a two-point conversion
to tie the score at 14-14.
Defiance decided to play aggressively with just 45 seconds left
on the clock in the first half. Will Swary reeled off a 13-yard
gainer and then Austin Keel connected with Helton through the
air twice for 41 yards moving the ball down to the Celina 18-yard
Three straight incomplete passes and a fall start penalty moved
the ball back to the 23-yard line and brought up a fourth-and-15
situation for Defiance with just one second to go before halftime.
Defiance made the most of that one second as Keel hit Helton
on a deep post for 23-yard score giving the Blue and White a
21-14 lead at halftime.
“That was the play of the game tonight,” said Fell.
“We can’t give up touchdown like that with no time
left on the clock, but you have to credit Defiance because they
made the catch in the end zone.”
“We had a lot of chances to put the final nail in the
coffin against them in the second half, but to Celina’s
credit, they battled us the whole way,” said Buti. “It
almost ended up being disastrous for us by missing out on those
opportunities. We did make good on a huge play before halftime
on that pass and L.J. made a great play on a nice pass from