Quarterback Reggie McAdams and the Elida Bulldogs’ offense returned to the field just in time to halt the St. Marys football team’s second-half comeback bid.
McAdams engineered a game-defining 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the third quarter and into the early fourth quarter to give Elida the cushion it needed to escape from Skip Baughman Stadium with a 42-23 victory.
Elida had a worn-out defense and the Roughriders had scored 15 points in less than two minutes to close to within five points late in the third quarter.
A game that seemed so far out of reach just eight minutes earlier was there for the Riders’ taking.
But McAdams and his offense responded with a clock-chewing, defense-restoring drive that saw the 6-foot-six quarterback go 3-of-3 for 39 yards passing and had him picking up a key third and two inside the five yard line to set up Colin Blymyer’s two-yard touchdown with 10:01 left in the first half.
“At that point we said, ‘We need a good drive, take some time off the clock, let our defense rest to get a stop after we score,’” Elida head coach Jason Carpenter said. “So our offense responded really well. That was a pivotal point of the game and we needed to have that drive.”
St. Marys falls to 1-2 with the loss and 0-2 in the Western Buckeye League.
“It’s a learning experience, I guess,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said. “It’s a growing process. Last week we got down and never showed back up. At least tonight we came back and fought hard in the third quarter and played hard. ”
The final score betrayed the mess the Bulldogs found themselves in with 2:30 left in the third quarter.
St. Marys scrapped itself right back into the game after trailing by 20 points at one point early in the third quarter and had the Elida defense gasping for air in the third quarter.
Elida’s defense played 21 consecutive plays from scrimmage after running back an interception for a touchdown, giving up a long touchdown drive to the Roughriders and then watching the special teams fumble the ball right back to St. Marys.
McAdams, after shredding the St. Marys defense for 256 yards passing and three scores in the first half, didn’t touch the football for the first 7:59 of the third quarter.
The Riders promptly stuck the ball in the end zone four plays after the kick-off fumble with a D.J. Manning 36-yard touchdown run on a fourth and three, cutting the once 20-point Elida lead down to five points at 28-23 with an entire quarter to play.
Manning was the workhorse once again for the Roughriders offensively. Two weeks after setting the school’s new rushing record at Sidney, Manning carried the ball 43 times for 246 yards against an Elida defense that was shredded by Wapakoneta’s Conner Pickens the week before.
St. Marys played dead in the second half of last week’s 40-7 loss to Kenton. Not so this week, Phillips said.
“Oh yeah there was an improvement,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t so much in football technique. It was just the fact that we played more minutes and got more kids in there and they responded. That, to me, is a good improvement. That fight, that heart will carry you a long way.”
For the third straight week, St. Marys struck first.
After St. Marys forced Elida into a fourth and long, St. Marys’ Steven Paulus got a piece of the Austin Etzler’s punt to give the Riders prime field position. On St. Marys’ opening play from scrimmage on offense, Manning weaved his way through the line and broke free down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown. Tre Sherman, the placeholder, took off with the ball on the extra point and made it in to give the Riders an early 8-0 advantage.
McAdams and company answered with a vengeance the rest of the first half.
McAdams answered with a seven-play scoring drive highlighted by a 38-yard pass to Austin Etzler and finished by a five-yard connection with Etzler in the end zone. St. Marys led 8-7.
McAdams then struck on a one-play drive with a 31-yard touchdown strike to Etzler to give Elida the 14-8 first quarter lead.
Etzler finished the game with 10 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
McAdams sat in the pocket and drove perfect strikes to his favorite Etzler. St. Marys didn’t make Etzler move with any pressure, either.
“I think we probably should’ve pressured him more,” Phillips said. “Hindsight is always 20/20. If you try to pressure him, he really hurts you when you leave your secondary out to dry with man coverage. They had a couple of really nice wide receivers. He’s smart and reads the coverage really well and stays in the pocket and makes decisions.”
St. Marys halted an Elida drive early in the second quarter with a nifty interception by St. Marys outside linebacker John Phillipe, who stepped in front of an out route thrown by McAdams, tipped the zipped pass and snagged it for the pick. Phillipe’s play was St. Marys’ seven interception of the season in just three games.
Elida went to the half firmly in control 21-8 after the Bulldogs turned around horrid field position in a matter of two play. Manning hit a perfect coffin corner punt to bury Elida at its own two-yard line with 4:01 left in the first half.
Two plays later, Elida was in the end zone.
McAdams hit Etzler for a 16-yard strike and then hit a streaking Etzler on an inside seam for an 82-yard touchdown.
“We probably played about 38 of 48 where we played our tails off and then there are about 10 minutes in this game where they popped two touchdowns on us and if not we have a chance to win this game,” Phillips said.
The game seemed on the verge of a blowout when Elida’s K.J. Russell wrestled the ball away from the St. Marys intended receiver, kept his feet, and scampered 22 yards to the end zone to put Elida up 28-8.
But St. Marys put together a response with a methodical 12-play drive that ended with quarterback T.J. Powell finding a wide open fullback Brad Sawmiller in the left flat. Sawmiller barreled into the end zone to draw the Riders to within 28-16 following Manning’s two-point run.
Elida fumbled on the ensuing kick-off to set up Manning’s 36-yard fourth-down run.
St. Marys has now gone through the gauntlet with games against two of the WBL’s toughest teams in Kenton and Elida. Phillips said playing tough teams doesn’t guarantee later success, but it can help if used as proper motivation.
St. Marys plays Bath next Friday night and will try to end a 14-game losing streak in WBL play.
“(Playing two tough early opponents) can help us if we apply it to our next teams on our schedule and we don't think we’re playing lesser competition,” Phillips said. “There is no off week in this league. We now play a team with a great running back and a great offensive line and we have to go play 48 minutes.”
ELIDA 42, ST. MARYS 23
1 2 3 4 F
E 14 7 7 14 — 42
SM 8 0 15 0 — 23
SM — D.J. Manning 56-yard touchdown run, Tre Sherman 2-pt. conversion run, SM 8-0, 8:30 (1-play, 56-yard drive, T.O.P. 0:10).
E — Austin Etzler 5-yard touchdown reception from Reggie McAdams, Nathan Jenkins PAT kick good, SM 8-7, 5:24 (7-play, 62-yard drive, T.O.P. 3:00).
E — Etzler 31-yard touchdown reception from McAdams, Jenkins PAT kick good, E 14-8, 3:26 (1-play, 31-yard drive, T.O.P. 0:08).
E — Etzler 82-yard touchdown reception from McAdams, Jenkins PAT kick good, E 21-8, 3:32 (2-play, 98-yard drive, T.O.P. 0:29).
E — K.J. Russell 22-yard interception return for a touchdown, Jenkins PAT good, E 28-8, 9:36.
SM — Brad Sawmiller 16-yard touchdown reception from T.J. Powell, Manning 2-pt. conversion run, E 28-16, 3:54 (13-play, 80-yard drive, T.O.P. 5:32).
SM — D.J. Manning 36-yard touchdown run, Manning PAT good, E28-23, 2:32 (4-play, 42-yard drive, T.O.P. 2:22).
E — Colin Blymyer 2-yard touchdown run, Jenkins PAT good, E 35-23, 10:01 (10-play, 64-yard drive, T.O.P. 4:31).
E — Anthony Sumpter 2-yard touchdown run, Jenkins PAT good, E 42-23 (11-play, 53-yard drive).
St. Marys: D.J. Manning 43-246, , T.J. Powell 4-16, Brad Sawmiller 6-30, Dustin Fisher 2-11.
Elida: Colin Blymyer 17-61, Reggie McAdams 4-19, Austin Etzler 1-6, Anthony Sumpter 1-2, TD.
St. Marys: T.J. Powell 1-5-16, TD, INT; D.J. Manning 0-1-0.
Elida: Reggie McAdams 17-23-325, 3 TDs, Int.
St. Marys: Brad Sawmiller 1-16, TD.
Elida: Austin Etzler 10-256, 3 TDs.
TEAM STATISTICS SM E
Rushing 55-303 23-88
Passing 1-6-16 17-23-325
Had Intercepted 1 1
Fumbles--Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties 4-30 6-50