Two plays doom Delta in 14-3 loss to Bryan

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

For 47 minutes and 30 seconds, Delta probably was the better team Friday night.

The Panthers stuffed the Golden Bears’ run game to 37 yards, including a minus-13 in the second half.

Highly-touted Bryan receiver Titus Rohrer caught all of two passes for a paltry 11 yards.

However, in the two aforementioned plays, a jump ball 84-yard touchdown pass and a late pick six that totaled all of 30 fateful seconds, ruined a great defensive display by Delta and turned the game into a 14-3 Golden Bear win.

Both teams are now 1-1 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.

After both teams fought to find their way offensively in the opening quarter, Delta got a break when Shawn Cook picked a Ethan Wesson pass to give the Panthers a great starting point at the Bryan 29-yard line.

A 4th-and-4 pass interference penalty pushed the ball to the 18, but the Panthers’ run game was stoned without another first down and Austin Kohlhofer knocked home a 30-yard field goal a minute into the second quarter to bump Delta up 3-0.

That lead lasted all of 64 seconds.

After a stop for a minimal gain and a holding penalty forced a 3rd-and-26 at their own 16, Wesson heaved a jump ball pass down the left side and Caleb Kepler high-pointed the ball and kept his feet when he came down, racing the last 50 yards to the end zone to give Bryan a 7-3 lead.

Kepler’s 30-yard punt return late in the half along with Korbin Shepherd’s 27-yard run gave the Bears a scoring chance at the Panther 33, but the Delta defense stood as Wesson’s pass on 4th-and-6 to Rohrer only got five and turned the ball back to the Panthers with a minute left in the second quarter.

Neither team could mount much in the way of a drive in the second half.

The Panthers opening possession got to the Bryan 38 but Josh Tresnan-Reighard’s fumble ended that drive.

Bryan got to the Delta 43 in the third but back-to-back sacks by Max Hoffman and Blake Schauwecker forced a Bear punt.

From that point it was a series of one-two-three-kick as again neither team could sustain any offensive continuity.

Delta overcame a roughing the kicker penalty to force another Bryan punt, taking over at their own 20 with eight minutes to go in the game. However, on the third play, Jaylin Damron stepped in front of a James Ruple pass and took it 33 yards to the house to give Bryan a 14-3 lead.

On the next series, Ruple’s long rainbow came down in the arms of Bryar Knapp for a 36-yard gain to help get the ball into Bryan territory.

An eight yard strike from Ruple to Knapp pushed the ball to the 35 but a fourth down pass to Hoffman was stuffed for no gain which stopped any chance for a Delta comeback.

Delta had 10 first downs on the night compared to seven for Bryan.

Each team had 147 yards in total offense, with 84 of Bryan’s coming on the touchdown pass to Kepler. Wesson went 9-20 for 110 yards with an interception, while Ruple was 7-18 for 87 with three picks — all by Damron.

Delta travels to Archbold Friday for a battle with the undefeated Blue Streaks.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

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