FOOTBALL: Van Wert powers past St. Marys, 26-6

VAN WERT — The St. Marys football team knew Van Wert would stick to the ground game after rain made for another sloppy track.

Even with the Riders keyed to stop him Van Wert's Caleb Lloyd ran at will anyways, helping to hand St. Marys a 26-6 loss  at Eggerss Stadium in a battle of teams that came into Friday night without a win.

Lloyd rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars to their first win of the season and the 500th victory of the program’s history. Lloyd, a 5-foot-11, 164-pound senior,  lined up in the I-formation and took toss after toss. Whether he kept it between the tackles or bounced it to the edge, St. Marys had no answer.

“They’ve been running the I-formation the last three or four weeks and they did exactly what we thought they’d do,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said. “They just knocked us off the football and played football and we didn’t.”

Photos: St. Marys at Van Wert football (10/19/12)

The Cougars led 13-7 at the half and scored 13 unanswered points in the second half to salt away their first win since Oct. 29, 2010 — an 18 game slide. It also was Van Wert’s best offensive output of the season. Previously, their best offensive night of the season were the 14 points they put up against Defiance.

The Cougars waited almost two entire seasons to celebrate the program’s milestone 500th win. Once an area football power that has collected 18 Western Buckeye League titles, Van Wert faced a similarly-storied St. Marys program that has also fallen on tough times in an opportunity for both teams to geta first win.

Instead it was another frustrating ending for the Roughriders, who drop to 0-9 on the season and 0-8 in Western Buckeye League play.

St. Marys answered an early Van Wert touchdown to tie the game 6-6, but a muffed punt set up Van Wert for a short touchdown score late in the second quarter from which the Roughriders never seemed to recover.

Van Wert opened the scoring after stopping St. Marys in Cougar territory on a fourth and 13. Van Wert then marched 80 yards in six plays, finished off by a Tyler Wiliams to Chris Miller 33-yard touchdown pass. After the extra point missed, Van Wert led 6-0 with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

St. Marys answered with a 64-yard, 11-play touchdown drive that saw St. Marys run it 11 times. Dustin Fisher capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. A bad snap on the PAT made it 6-6.

Fisher led St. Marys with 74 yards rushing on 19 carries.

St. Marys’ Trent Slife intercepted Van Wert’s Williams on the ensuing drive, but St. Marys couldn’t do anything with it and was forced to punt the ball back to Van Wert.

After St. Marys’’ defense got a stop, St. Marys return man Jared Knous muffed a punt inside his own 10 yard line. After a mad scramble and Van Wert recovery, the Cougars took just one play to go seven yards and take the lead for good on a Lloyd run.

“It wasn’t a good feeling and when you’re 0-8 your confidence is as strong as a pane of glass,” Phillips said.

Lloyd’s five-yard touchdown run on third and goal extended the lead to 19-6 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.

Williams connected with Michael Smelser on a 22-yard touchdown pass to wrap up the scoring early in the fourth quarter. Williams ended the game 6 of 14 for 113 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

St. Marys quarterback Adam Brown got the start for the second straight week to fill in for an injured Dustin Fisher, who is limited to playing running back. Brown went  6 of 14 for 65 yards. Brown completed his first four passes for 50 yards, but Van Wert’s pressure up front made for a tough second half for the St. Marys passing game.

St. Marys wraps up its season on Friday at Shawnee. The Indians fell to 1-8 on the season with a 49-22 loss to Wapakoneta.