Swanton made their chances at winning a league title extremely difficult as they went scoreless in the second half and fell on Homecoming to Liberty Center, 28-7, Friday in Northwest Ohio Athletic League football.
“We came out very flat I thought,” said head coach Randy Kerns. “I thought the kids battled a little bit. We put some drives together. But, we couldn’t get off the field (on defense).
“We made mistakes tonight. Had guys make some mistakes that are uncharacteristic. In the end, that’s on me. We just weren’t ready. That’s a fact.”
After spotting the Tigers 14 points, the Bulldogs trimmed their lead in half late in the second quarter.
They got to near midfield on a 33-yard completion on a halfback pass from Swanton’s Michael Lawniczak to Crew Oberheim. When they advanced into Tiger territory they were forced into a fourth-and-7 from the 34 yard line, but quarterback Dylan Gilsdorf found Lawniczak streaking across the middle of the field and the junior took it down to the 14 with 4:08 left in the half.
Four plays later, Lawniczak took a sweep around the right end for a touchdown and the point after by Anthony Howard put the margin at 14-7 with 2:05 remaining. However, that would be the halftime margin.
“That is a heck of a program. Heck of a team,” said Kerns of Liberty Center. “They were picked to finish first in the league for a reason. And they’re bigger and stronger than us, unfortunately, at a good majority of positions.
“But I was proud of the guys. We got back on the board there when things could have gotten away from us against a quality team like that.”
Swanton received a break when Liberty Center’s opening drive of the second half stalled at the Bulldog 27. However, they could not capitalize on the opportunity.
Backed up at their own 36 on third-and-2, Gilsdorf threw a ball near the sideline that was picked off by Conner Sonnenberg who took it back all the way. Orry Killam’s extra point extended their lead at 21-7 at the 4:34 mark of the third.
North West added a TD from seven yards out 4:28 into the fourth to equal the final tally.
In the first quarter, the Tigers took over half the time off the clock on an opening drive that resulted in a score. A Jarrett Krugh quarterback keeper, also from seven yards away, made it 7-0 at the 5:44 mark.
Swanton used the running of Lawniczak and Zack Leahey, and also a 13-yard completion to Gage Pachlhofer, to get inside Tiger territory. But on fourth and short at the 43, Pachlhofer was stopped a couple of inches short to turn it over on downs.
LC did not score on that drive, but on their second possession of what was now the second quarter, Krugh recorded his second TD of the game on a one-yard plunge 4:16 in. This put the Dogs in a 14-0 hole.
Swanton (5-3, 3-2 NWOAL) will quickly turn the page on this loss as they still have a shot at the playoffs with a match-up with Archbold (7-1, 5-0) looming in week 10. But first, the Dogs host Delta (1-7, 0-5) this Friday.
“To be where we are I’m not displeased with. We control a lot of things here,” said Kerns. “You got Delta coming in for a rivalry game that’s always tough. And then you go to Archbold, which (a win) gets you major points.
“You can absolutely be in with a win over Archbold and a win over Wauseon. So we’ve got a lot to play for. I’m hoping I got that message over. I’m gonna have to keep getting that message over.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010