A late Swanton drive was halted by Patrick Henry and the Patriots topped the Bulldogs 21-13 on Saturday at Hansbarger Stadium.
With 3:16 left in the game, which was delayed to Saturday due to weather, Swanton had driven from their own 11-yard line to just inside the Patrick Henry 25-yard line. But on fourth and five, Devon Crouse was stopped short by the Patriot defense and the Dogs turned the ball over on downs.
With Swanton short on timeouts, the Patriots were able to run out the clock and seal the season and Northwest Ohio Athletic League opening win.
“I thought both teams played very hard and I am very proud of the effort my team gave all night long,” said Swanton Coach Denton Saunders. “I knew this game would come down to a few key plays and we just made a too many mental mistakes to come out on top.”
The Bulldogs outgained Patrick Henry 315-278 on the night, but had six penalties for 35 yards, while the Patriots had just two for 10 yards.
The game started with an onside kick attempt from Swanton. The Patriots recovered and wasted little time driving down the field.
They capped the drive when Gavin Jackson found Clayton Feehan for a 25-yard scoring strike, and led 7-0 following the extra point.
The teams traded punts before the Bulldogs put together their first sustained drive of the season. They converted one fourth down just inside Patriot territory on a run by Ian Saunders, but could not convert another.
The Patriots took over at their own 39 and drove down the field, scoring on a 5-yard run by Corbin Johnson for a 14-0 lead.
A fake punt kept the next Swanton drive alive. On fourth and nine, Crouse saw an opening on the right side and took advantage.
Trent Weigel was sacked on the next play, but found Lathan Pawlowicz on the next two. The first went for 16 yards and a first down.
Then, from 22 yards out, Weigel somehow fit the ball through a defender to Pawlowicz in the end zone. The extra point was no good, but the Bulldogs pulled within 14-6 with 2:07 left in the first half.
The ensuing Patriot drived proved to be decisive.
“There was not one key turning point in this game,” said coach Saunders. “It was very even throughout the game but if I had to pick one, it would be the touchdown scored by PH right before halftime. It was third and long and we gave up a big pass play with 12 seconds left in the half… that ended up being the difference in the game.”
On third and 11, Jackson found Timmy Johnson for the touchdown and a 21-6 Patrick Henry lead heading into halftime.
After the break, the Bulldogs wasted no time getting it back to a one-score game. Ian Saunders found space along the sideline and raced 55 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
The extra point by Ethan Hensley was good, making it 21-13 Patriots.
The Bulldogs forced a Patrick Henry punt before each team drove in the opponent’s territory and turned the ball over on downs.
It was then that Swanton started its final drive of the game. A big run from Saunders and big reception by Kaden Keivens helped set them up in Patriot territory before they were stopped on fourth down.
Saunders finished with 127 yards on the ground. Weigel was 17-23 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown.
“Number 72 (Caleb Rosengarten) for PH had a great game on both sides of the ball and ended up taking away half the field on defense. He is a real good player,” said coach Saunders. “Their QB had a nice deep ball as well which hurt us. But for our team I think Ian Saunders, Josh Townes, and Lathan Pawlowicz all had really good games on both sides of the ball.”
Swanton will host Wauseon (1-0) on Friday as part of an updated schedule that includes league games the first six weeks of the season.