Swanton opened their bid to repeat as NWOAL champions Friday by defeating Archbold at home, 42-14. While the first half was very competitive, the Bulldogs scored 22 straight to begin the second half to shut the door on the Blue Streaks.
“In the first half some guys made some plays which helped. And then in the second half we were just really physical,” said Swanton coach Mike Vicars after the game. “We just ran straight ahead and really wore them down I think.
“The strength of this team is its offensive line and the ability to run down hill with our backs. They did a nice job.”
Archbold mentor David Dominique agreed with the notion that Swanton wore them down in the second half.
“Flat out they were more physical than us and it showed,” he said. “Their o-linemen controlled the line of scrimmage and they came out right away and hit us right in our mouth. We didn’t have an answer all night.”
The Dogs got on the scoreboard first when Michael Lawniczak punched it in from a yard out and Nick Koback’s extra point made it 7-0 with 4:58 left in the first quarter. That drive was kept alive when Cameron Hitchen picked up six yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from their own 33 yardline.
Lawniczak, who sat out part of last week’s game with an ankle injury, picked up 171 yards on 19 carries and had three touchdowns for Swanton.
“They did a good job – Delta Physical Therapy and Mike Yoder the trainer. They did a really good job of getting him ready to go,” said Vicars. “Michael’s a tough kid. He got a little bit dinged back up again. But I suppose he’s gonna have to live with that for awhile.”
“He is a good running back. For only a sophomore, he runs hard, he’s got very good vision (and) he’s got speed,” added Dominique of Lawniczak. “He is a good player out there, but, we didn’t help ourselves. We didn’t make tackles. We had him at times and we didn’t make tackles.”
The Streaks picked up one first down on the ensuing possession on Travis Ziegler’s 13-yard run, but went nowhere from there and were forced to punt.
Lawniczak would then rip off a 60-yard TD which he capped off by diving into the end zone to make it 14-0 with 2:44 left in the opening quarter.
Later in the second quarter, Archbold’s Camden Miller ripped off a long run to the Bulldog five-yard line. That led to a one-yard TD from quarterback Gabe Petersen to slice the Bulldog lead at 14-7 with 7:26 left in the half.
However, the Dogs would answer on a nice drive before the end of the half.
They were stopped on a third-and-3 in Archbold territory, but a late hit penalty gave them a first down.
Lawniczak took the hand off on the next play where he ran for nine yards down to the Archbold seven yardline. After an incomplete pass on second down, Swanton signal caller Marek Spiess found Gunnar Oakes in the left side of the end zone for the TD. The extra point was blocked to make the score 20-7 at the half.
“That was big. Gunnar is a good player and he ran a great route,” said Vicars. “They were anticipating him, but I don’t think they anticipated that route.”
“Definitely,” said Dominique when asked if the momentum swung at that point. “Yea we had some momentum going there in that second quarter. We started answering, got it down to 14-7. And then, that was a great throw by their quarterback. Great throw and catch.”
The Dogs fed Lawniczak on four straight plays to begin the third quarter, the fourth being a 47 yard scamper in which he fought through numerous tackles for a TD to push their lead to 27-7.
Archbold began its next drive on their own 20 but Sam Petersen quickly changed that, getting loose up the middle for 42 yards to get into Bulldog territory. Later in the drive, however, Gabe Petersen’s pass was incomplete on fourth-and-5 from the 20 to turn it back over to Swanton.
They then added to their lead when Marek Spiess found his younger brother Brennan Spiess streaking open down the middle of the field and hit him in stride for a 42 yard score with 2:05 left in the third. Zack Leahey ran in the two-point conversion and the Bulldog lead was now 35-7.
“That was something that (the offensive staff) talked about at halftime,” said Vicars on the Brennan Spiess touchdown. “Hey, if that presents itself this is what we’re going to do. Brennan ran a great route and Marek threw it perfect.”
The Streaks began the ensuing possession from their own 44 after a nice kick-off return from Toby Walker who caught the ball near the goal line. However, the drive resulted in a three-and-out and they were forced to kick it back to Swanton.
Tim Rankin added a three yard rushing TD for Swanton with 6:03 remaining to give them a 42-7 lead. Closing out the scoring for the Streaks was Zach Rocha who broke free for a 68 yard rushing score with 2:04 remaining.
Swanton outgained Archbold 397-251 as the Dogs accumulated 299 yards on the ground. Also, Marek Spiess was 5 for 13 through the air for 75 yards and a pair of TDs.
Leading the Blue Streak rushing attack was Sam Petersen who had 88 yards on 12 carries. Rocha added 67 yards on three carries, while Miller had 51 on a pair of runs.
Swanton (4-0, 1-0 NWOAL) is at home again this week when Bryan comes to town. Archbold (2-2, 0-1 NWOAL) hosts rival Wauseon who defeated Delta Friday night for their first win.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010