A strong ground game and an aggressive onside kick call by Columbus Grove head coach Andy Schafer that proved successful all helped swing the needle in favor of the visiting Bulldogs, as they traveled to Archbold Saturday night and came away with a 34-20 win in a Division VI, Region 22 semifinal.
“They played a heck of a football game. They had a great game plan against us, and they have a great team,” said Archbold coach David Dominique of the season-ending loss to Columbus Grove. “They made a lot of good plays. And we just weren’t making plays at times. It came back to haunt us towards the end. We got way too behind to beat a good team like that. It just doesn’t work in big games like this.”
Archbold closes the season at 8-1. Columbus Grove (9-0) will face Fairview (9-0) in the regional final this coming Saturday.
Each team scored a touchdown in the first half — Grove on their second possession of the game and Archbold seven seconds into the second quarter — as the score at half read 7-7.
The Bulldogs’ TD came on a two-yard plunge up the middle by quarterback Blake Reynolds, while the Blue Streaks got on the board with a 25-yard strike from DJ Newman to Jayden Schulze.
With the game up in the air, it was Grove who seized its opportunities in the second half.
A good return of the second half opening kickoff plus a horsecollar tackle penalty on the Streaks gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Archbold 25-yard line to start.
Then, behind the running of Reynolds and tailback Colin Metzger, they were able to work their way into the end zone. Reynolds capped the drive with a one-yard run on third-and-goal and Rece Verhoff’s extra point put the Dogs in front 14-7 at the 8:21 mark of the third.
On the ensuing kick, Grove went for the onside which they recovered. The Bulldogs turned that into six more points thanks to Metzger’s 10-yard run on a toss left. But the extra point was missed, to keep the score at 20-7 with 7:18 left in the quarter.
With the Blue Streak offense struggling to get going, Grove, and in particular Metzger, added scores of one and 15 yards to increase their lead to 34-7 with only 5:24 remaining.
He finished the game with 197 yards and three TDs.
“Very tough,” said Dominique of Metzger. “He’s only a junior so he’s got a very good career ahead of him. But he ran hard; got some hard yards. I think that really set the tone for them. They were really able to control the clock and keep the ball out of our offense’s hands. We just could never get in a rhythm it seemed like from then on.”
The Streaks ended the night with TD passes to Brandon Taylor and Noah Gomez in the final three minutes but could get no closer.
Prior to that, their offense struggled to get into a rhythm.
“Things were going the wrong way it seemed like. They did a great job getting us inside our own five yard line twice (in the first half). That’s tough to bounce back from,” explained Dominique of his team’s offensive woes.
“At the end of the day though, I’m very proud of our guys. These seniors have had one heck of a four years. Getting to the playoffs three times — and then three league titles. Unfortunately, there’s only seven teams in the state that end on top. That’s what I told our guys, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Very proud of what they’ve done for this program. They left it in better hands.”
Archbold did outgain Columbus Grove 343-297.
Newman completed 13 of 20 for 116 yards and two TDs to one interception. He added 132 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Taylor caught four passes from Newman for 59 yards and a score.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010