By Gary R. Rasberry
DEFIANCE -- A week after getting shutdown and shutout by Ottawa-Glandorf, the Celina Bulldogs hoped to spring back with a good performance against Defiance in the battle of the Bulldogs.
At least this week they scored.
Defiance quarterback Graham Wagner rushed for 145 yards, passed for another 109 and scored four touchdowns as Defiance won 35-6 at Fred J. Brown Stadium.
The win puts Defiance at 4-4 on the season and 4-3 in the Western Buckeye League. The loss puts Celina at 2-6 overall and 1-6 in the WBL.
A week after Celina coach Mike Fell said "We'll bounce back. We've played our very best games after we've been embarrassed." after the 37-0 loss to Ottawa, the Bulldogs turned the ball over five times, four on fumbles, and could not take down Wagner on the run. The 6-4, 210-pound senior worked well out of the shotgun. Working with the draw play, Graham easily moved up the middle, shrugging off tackles and averaged 9.1 yards per carry in the game. Wagner scored touchdowns on runs of 24, 14, three and one
"I thought Wagner did an excellent job," said Fell. "He's a big strong kid, ran the ball hard. You can't knock him down, you have to tackle him."
"He's a load," said Defiance coach Jerry Buti of his senior quarterback. "Celina's not the only team who has had trouble tackling him. When he's running like that, he had (Robert) Orta leading him through there."
When Wagner was not running the ball or passing -- Wagner was 10-of-22 for 109 yards and no interceptions -- Orta got his carries. The senior had 71 yards on 15 carries and scored on a seven-yard run just three minutes into the second half.
Buti was happy with the offense, but had a lot to say about the defense.
"The difference was our defense," said Buti. "They played, maybe, their best game of the year. That was the whole difference. We had the field position, we recovered the fumbles. I don't know what Celina had rushing (79), but it wasn't a whole lot. ... That was the whole difference in the game."
Celina had their troubles. With Kelly Mallory not playing after suffering a deviated septum last week, it was up to Erik Chapin, Brandon Ley and Andy Harner to lead the offense.
Chapin was hounded in the the first half, rushing for just six yards on eight carries and getting sacked three times. Chapin also was just 5-of-8 passing for 36 yards. Harner finished with 25 yards and scored the lone Celina touchdown with 5:48 remaining in the game on a two-yard score.
"They came off the ball hard defensively," said Fell. "They messed us up there. They were in a 3-5 and bringing guys hard. They had eight guys in the box. We had to be able to throw the football and we didn't do a good job of that."
In the second half, Fell began to make some changes. Chapin focused on playing defense and Scott Felver took over the signal-calling chores. Things looked good as Felver's first pass of the half went for 33 yards to Jordan Heuker. But Felver's next attempt went into the hands of freshman Adam Wagner. Felver completed his last two passes for a combined 10 yards in going 3-of-5.
"We had to do something," said Fell. "We moved the ball not at all in the first half. We had to try some different things to get the team going."
Celina returns to Celina Stadium for the home finale on Friday as Wapakoneta, coached by Kevin Fell -- Mike's brother -- comes to town.