By Gary R. Rasberry
WAPAKONETA -- The Celina football team took the term "Road Warrior" to heart this season.
After going winless at Celina Stadium in five games, Celina wrapped up a 4-1 road mark, scoring 12 straight points in the second half and coming up big on defense in the final nine minutes to beat Wapakoneta, 18-16, at Harmon Field.
The win wraps up a 4-6 season for the Bulldogs and a 4-5 mark in the Western Buckeye League. The Redskins end the season at 3-7 overall and 2-7 in the WBL.
The game was already a big to-do for Celina coach Mike Fell -- since it meant facing his brother, Wapak coach Kevin Fell -- but the win gave the Celina coach his 100th career win.
"It was good for me because it's my 100th win," said Mike Fell. "I asked the seniors if they could get that done for me. They definitely got it done." Celina was hampered early by three turnovers, the last an interception in the final 90 seconds of the first half that allowed Wapak to move the ball down the field and break a 6-all tie on a 24-yard field goal by freshman Dan Dripps.
"Wapakoneta has a nice defense," said Mike Fell. "They did some things to us that shut us down a bit. I thought it was a game with two pretty good football teams."
Celina trailed 16-6 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter after Brandon Steinke punched it in from a yard out after Celina gave up the ball on a fake-punt try. After both teams punted the ball away, Celina drove 45 yards in 85 seconds with Chapin finding his passing touch to get Celina to the Wapak seven. From there, Andy Harner bulldozed the final seven yards to get the Bulldogs to within 16-12 after the missed extra point.
The Bulldog defense held on Wapak's next possession, pushing them back a yard and forcing a punt. Celina got a good return on the punt and added 15 more yards on a personal foul face mask to put the ball on the Redskin 39. Harner carried for two yards and Chapin ran for eight on the next two carries. On the next play, Chapin looked towards the end zone and found Zack Sams, who made the catch and fell into the end zone with 9:59 left to make it 18-16.
Celina lined up for the extra point, but the holder flipped the ball to Ley, who ran around end and looked to be in the end zone for the two-point conversion. The officials, however ruled since the holder's knee was down, the play was dead.
"It was a case of not giving up and staying with it," said Mike Fell. "We thought we could move the ball on them. If we could get an opportunity, we can score and get right back into it."
On Wapak's ensuing drive, the Redskins were able to break midfield, but was stopped at the 47 and had to punt.
Celina drove the ball well from its 17 to get to the Bulldog 36 before a delay of game and a sack of Chapin moved the ball back to the 27. Celina punted to the Wapak 42, where the run-back went back to the Celina 35. After the play, Celina was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball to the 20 with 4:14 left.
Wapak tried to run the ball on Celina, but the Bulldog defense held strong for the first two plays. Wapak quarterback Drew Parker tried to get to the end zone on a third-and-12 play to 6-6 receiver B.J. Reed. The pass was incomplete, but Celina was called for pass interference, the third one of the game for the Bulldogs. Wapak moved up to the 11-yard line where three plays yielded five yards. On fourth-and-five, Dripps went out to try a 24-yard field goal with 1:51. The snap was good and the kick was long enough, but drifted wide right, sending the Celina side into a frenzy.
The Bulldogs got the ball at the 20 with 1:45 left, where Chapin dove for a yard on first down, then went around the end for 15 yards and a first down. Wapak burned its last two timeouts, but Harner got six yards and Chapin ran for another first down in the final 30 seconds to wrap the game.
"It was a real team effort," said Mike Fell. "I thought (the) offense did some things right, defense did some good things in the second half. It was just a lot of fun."
"For a couple of 3-6 teams, I thought they played really well," said Kevin Fell. "I told Mike after the game I thought both teams proved a lot. It came down to a missed field goal, but you have to give Celina a lot of credit, they hung in there.
"We were driving, but they made the big stops. We had first-and-10 on the 12 and couldn't get it in and missed the field goal. That's the way it goes."
Chapin wrapped up a solid career for the Bulldogs with 125 yards rushing and 101 yards passing with two touchdowns, becoming the first Bulldog quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in a season. Chapin nearly got all 65 yards he needed to reach 1,000 on his first touch on offense, going 56 yards to take the ball to the Wapak nine. A play later, Chapin rushed for 10 more yards to get his milestone.
"The difference was (Chapin)," said Kevin Fell. "He made play after play. I'll tell you where he really made plays was on defense. He stopped our drive by himself that last time."
Harner added 46 yards rushing while Sams made three catches for 51 yards.
Parker, who took over at quarterback midway through the season, was 6-of-13 for 104 yards. Justin Brown, the quarterback before Parker, had three catches for 58 yards. Reed added 46 yards on three snags. Andrew Maitlen led the Redskins with 66 yards rushing.