FOOTBALL: Defiance pulls away late against St. Marys, 45-21

DEFIANCE — A wild back-and-forth affair between a pair of Western Buckeye League teams desperate for a win turned one-sided after a fumble and lengthy return.

Abram Ramirez scooped up a fumble at his own nine yard line and ran 85 yards to help Defiance seal a 45-21 win over St. Marys at Fred Brown Stadium on Friday night.

Photos: St. Marys at Defiance Football

St. Marys was on the cusp of adding another momentum swing to an  offensive contest when the Riders’ Jared Knous, who rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in a breakout game, fumbled the ball while going off right tackle on a toss sweep. Ramirez scooped up the ball and kept his knee from hitting the ground.

Ramirez made a cutback inside the 20 and had nothing but the goal line in front of him. Ramirez cramped up and fell at the six yard line. A play later Defiance’s Dom Romero bulldozed into the end zone to give Defiance the three-score cushion, 45-21.

“It was somebody making a play,” Defiance head coach Jerry Buti said. “It ignited the team.”

St. Marys falls to 0-6, 0-5 in the Western Buckeye League.

Defiance improves to 2-4, 2-3 in the WBL.

Defiance quarterback Joe Keween orchestrated the Defiance offense. The senior went 22 of 35 for 322 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Defiance never let up on the pedal, continuing to put the ball in the air after they went up two scores.

“We have a lot of trust in him as a senior quarterback,” Buti said. “And we have good receivers. They’re not going to run past anyone, but they’re great possession receivers. It’s a combination of that.”

St. Marys’ struggling offense found success on the edges of a Defiance defense that has been susceptible to opposing rushing games this fall.

Knous had a big night exploiting the Bulldogs defense with his speed to the edge and his knack for improvisation along the sidelines that was on display two weeks ago against Bath and again on Friday against Defiance.

Knous scored on touchdown runs of 47 and 53 yards.