If you play football for Delta’s Nate Ruple you better be physical, and Delta was the better team up front on both the offensive line and defensively as well in a 43-14 win over Evergreen to boost the Panthers to 3-1 on the season.
The Vikings fell to 2-2 on the year, in what was the Northwest Ohio Athletic League opener for both teams.
Delta took the lead 14 seconds into the game when Dakota Davis returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a score.
Evergreen had a chance to answer right back but Connor Hewson coughed up the ball at the end of an 18-yard run in Delta terrritory, and Josh Tresnan-Reighard recovered at the 35 to squelch the threat.
Each team stoned the other on fourth down plays, the Vikings stopping Delta on a fourth-and-5 at the 9.
However, after an Evergreen punt, the Panthers blew the game open with 16 points in the last 47 seconds of the first quarter.
Quarterback James Ruple hit the edge, caught Evergreen biting inside, and raced 75 yards for a score to double the Panther lead to 14-0.
Then after a holding penalty pushed the Vikings back inside the 10, Josh White sacked Payton Boucher for a safety to make it 16-0.
On the ensuing free kick, Davis took the ball at the 40 and used three great blocks in the middle to go 60 yards for a score and a 23-0 lead.
The Panthers got back on the board in their next possession.
Three Tresnan-Reighard runs totalling 27 yards set up Ruple’s out pass to brother Justin Ruple for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 30-0.
“That group of guys up front has really come along,” Coach Ruple said of his o-line. “They are the heart and soul of that offense, they are well-coached and they love those running backs. Hats off to those guys.”
Evergreen got one back with 7:04 left in the second when Boucher hit Grant Richardson from 4 yards out.
The teams traded scores in the second half.
Tresnan-Reighard again made a big play defensively when he picked off a Hunter Vaculik pass, giving the Panthers possession at the Viking 9.
James Ruple’s second scoring run from six yards away with 4:22 left in the third got the Panthers up 37-6.
“He’s getting better week in and week out,” Ruple said of his quarterback son. “It’s a good thing because teams are going to start stacking the box so as he continues to progress it will open up some things for us which is what we want. We just have to keep working with him and keep moving in the right direction.”
Vaculik answered that score with a 13-play drive that included five passes to Landen Vance, totalling 67 yards that set up a Vaculik scoring run up the middle to slice the Panther lead to 37-14.
Delta scored the last time in the last couple minutes on Jerremiah Wolford’s short run.
In all the Panthers ran for 218 yards on 37 carries. James Ruple got 109 on six totes and Tresnan-Reighard added 103 on 17 carries.
Delta had 259 yards of offense compared to 234 for Evergreen.
The Vikes had 208 through the air but the Panthers’ front wall sacked Evergreen quarterbacks four times.
“Let’s give Evergreen credit,” said the Delta coach. “They exposed some things on us that we weren’t expecting. A lot of crossing routes, they made us work for everything. Our defensive line did a nice job pressuring the quarterback, our DBs stayed solid and didn’t give up any big plays, we made them drive the field and fortunately tonight it worked out for us.”
Delta plays at Bryan this coming week, while the Vikes host Patrick Henry.