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The Daily



10-25-03: Unbelievable

Pfeffenberger’s field goal gives St. Marys win over Celina in annual battle


The 2003 edition of the Battle of Grand Lake will most likely go down as one of the greatest games in the series’ history.
Nick Pfeffenberger, likewise carved his name in history, as his 40-yard school record field goal with no time left gave the Roughriders a 16-14 win and the Riders first Western Buckeye League championship since 1993.
Celina had taken a 14-13 lead when Brady Bonifas dove in from a yard out with 1:18 remaining.
The Bulldogs then made the decision to intentionally kick the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, hoping the Riders would take the ball at the 35-yard line.
St. Marys instead chose to move the Bulldogs back five yards and have them re-kick. Celina once again kicked it out of bounds, this time unintentionally as the ball took a bad hop and went straight to the sideline.
“We knew that we had to get good field position, we really felt at that point for us to score a touchdown or kick a field goal we had to get a nice return,” said St. Marys coach Doug Frye. “Most people would decline that and take it at the 35, but we decided we’d keep making them kick it, sooner or later they were going to kick one deep.”
That’s exactly what happened when Celina then kicking from its own 30, was forced to kick a long one to Corey Vossler, who was making his first ever kickoff return, and was it ever a good one.
Vossler broke free, and after scampering 35 yards, he had set the Riders up first-and-ten on the Bulldogs 45 yard line.
“We didn’t want them to run it back, they have two good kids, and that’s exactly what happened. We finally had to kick to him and they got it out all the way to the 45,” said Celina coach Mike Fell.
“We got good blocking up front, I just took it up the gut and barely got touched,” said Vossler on his big return.
On the Riders first play Vossler tried to hit Scott Vossler on a 15-yard route, but Brian Gagle came up from his safety position and just missed an interception that would have ended the game..
Corey Vossler then hit Nick Yahl on a 13 yard gain, which was followed by a 12 yard completion to Scott Vossler to move St. Marys to the Bulldogs 20. A motion penalty pushed the Riders back five and then Corey Vossler gained what would be a crucial three yards on a scramble. Gagle then broke up another St. Marys pass, and when Corey Vossler couldn’t connect on the ensuing play, there were (Continued from page 6)
only two choices, a Hail Mary or an improbable field goal attempt.
St. Marys had the ball on the 23-yard line, which was a little farther out than Frye was hoping for when the drive began.
“I was thinking inside the 15, with Justin Nagel out it kind of threw us a little bit into a quandary in our two minute,” Frye said. “We had new kids stepping into new places and we were shuffled a little bit, and Bo Frye’s only been there for two weeks. So those kids in that situation did an excellent job.”
Frye called for the 40-yard attempt, and Pfeffenberger walked out for the school record attempt.
When asked if he was nervous, Pfeffenberger said, “Yeah, sort of,” with a boisterous laugh. “You can’t be nervous, but I guess I kind of was.”
When the kick went through it the uprights it sent shockwaves through the St. Marys sideline, while the Celina fans were covered by a blanket of silence.
A Celina player near the goal post said Pfeffenberger’s kick cleared by two feet.
A mere 1:18 earlier the Bulldogs looked destined to win their first game in this series since 1998, but some seasons teams have an aura around them, and that’s been the case all year for St. Marys.
“It seemed like it was kind of destined to go our way there when we made the nice catch there,” Fell said referring to Jon Beougher’s 34-yard grab that set up Celina’s go ahead touchdown. “Jon made a nice catch down there on the one (yard line), and we got in the end zone, and made the extra point for 14-13, but you have to give St. Marys credit. They hung in there and made the play.”
“That’s a hell of a field goal, 40-yard field goal, it can’t get any better than that for them,” said a gracious Mike Fell, after what had to be one of the toughest losses in his coaching career.
“You really can’t doubt yourself, you gotta go out there and think your holders going to get the hold down and your snappers going to get the ball there,” Pfeffenberger said. “Then all you have to do is kick it, just give it as much leg as you can, and that’s all that was going through my head.”
Celina dominated the first quarter and went up 7-0 on a Gagle 22-yard keeper up the middle.
St. Marys tied the game in the second quarter when Nick Fortman hauled in a 27-yard Corey Vossler pass.
The Riders then took a six point lead after Bo Frye scored from a yard out, but Pfeffenberger pushed the extra point left.
It’s marks an unprecedented 20th WBL championship for St. Marys who ends its season at 9-1, and will likely host a playoff game next weekend.
Celina ends the year at 5-5.


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