DELPHOS — A pair of Midwest Athletic Conference foes in search of a first MAC win of the season met Saturday afternoon at Stadium Park in Delphos. The winless Fort Recovery Indians failed to capitalize on Blue Jay mistakes in a 41-34 St. John’s overtime victory.
Saturday’s matinee never lacked drama, a second half to remember for St John’s led the Jays to their first Midwest Athletic Conference win of the season.
St John won the toss and elected to receive and marched right down the field to set the tone early. Grant Ulm found the end zone from 8 yards out, following the extra point try by Braylon Metzger, the Jays led 7-0 with 7:38 to play in the first quarter.
“I told our coaches going in that we wanted the ball first, Fort Recovery has set the tone in games this season with long drives, and we wanted to avoid that.” St John’s head coach Todd Schulte said. “It was great execution on that drive by our kids.”
St John’s forced a three-and-out and was looking to add to its lead. The Blue Jays did not attempt a pass on their opening scoring possession. On the first play of their second drive they decided to test the Fort Recovery secondary. Grant Ulm stood in the pocket, lofted a pass that was intercepted by Reece Wendel and Wendel took it 24 yards to the house.
TJ Werts fumbled on the first play of the ensuing St John’s possession. Fort Recovery recovered and wasted no time finding the end zone again. Troy Homan sprinted 33 yards on the Indians’ first play to give them the lead 13-7.
“We started to take control of things and credit to St John’s, they never gave up. We had to many instances today that we didn’t cease the moment, it wasn’t in any particular area we made some mistakes, and we can’t beat a good team when we do that,” Fort Recovery head coach Brent Niekamp said.
Delphos St John’s battled adversity after the turnovers. The Jays forced a three-and-out before marching back down the field. Grant Ulm dominated the ground, finding the endzone for a second time on his 1-yard quarterback keeper. With 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter, St John’s led 14-13.
“Every time we got down, we did a good job fighting back. We lost the turnover battle today but had many moments we could quit, but our guys fought. I give our kids credit, we had to move some guys around.” Shulte said.
The Indians controlled the middle stanza, outdueling the Jays by a pair of touchdowns. Troy Homan struck again on another 1-yard keeper to put his squad back in front.
Fort Recovery went to the air on the next possession. Grant Homan connected with Reece Guggenbiller on a 51-yard pitch and catch. A “Philly Special” two-point conversion saw Homan real in Austin Steinbrunner’s pass to increase Fort Recovery’s lead to 27-14 at the break.
The second half was electric as the Blue Jays continued to battle adversity to bring their deficit back within a touchdown. Following a quick Fort Recovery score to begin the third the Jays rattled off a pair of chunk plays.
TJ Wertz found a hole for 36 yards to set the hosts up inside the red zone. Ulm found the end zone once again for his third score. One possession later, Ulm struck again. his fourth touchdown of the afternoon brought the Jays within six points heading into the fourth quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a dog fight today, our guys made plays when we needed them too.” Schulte said. “This group battled all day and fought so much adversity.”
Just as it looked like Fort Recovery would be able to seal the deal mid fourth quarter, DSJ’s defense stood tall. Gavin Evers hauled in a 49 yard catch from Homan on the first play of the drive. The Indians could not punch it in, they turned it over on downs at the Blue Jay 6-yard line with 19 seconds to play in the third. Fort Recovery would not touch the ball again until the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Blue Jays milked nearly the entire fourth quarter clock while methodically marching down the field. Adversity struck once again for the Jays midway through the fourth quarter. Ulm left the game due to injury. Drew Boggs stepped in and didn’t skip a beat; Boggs fired a pass on fourth down to TJ Werts for the 16-yard score to tie things at 34.
“Grant (Ulm) and Drew (Boggs) each know the position. All week during practice they rotate during practice, and it had Drew ready for the moment today.” Shulte said.
Braylon Metzger had been perfect on the day on extra point tries, Fort Recovery brought pressure up the middle and blocked the go-ahead attempt. The Jays got the ball back with 1:42 remaining looking to walk it off on their home turf.
Facing third & 5 with 1:02 to play Boggs had a pass intercepted by Breaker Jutte. Fort Recovery worked into enemy territory as time wound down but couldn’t find the scoreboard, Alex Garke attempted to win the game, but his 46-yard field goal attempt was off the mark as regulation expired.
Niekamp said. “We made plays but couldn’t put them away. We had spurts of greatness today, they tightened up the box and it was hard to find success on the ground.”
St John’s began overtime with the ball. On third down Boggs delivered. He was scrambling and found TJ Werts in open field, Werts did the rest as he bounced off a pair of tackle attempts and dove into the end zone for the 20-yard score. Metzger’s extra point try gave the Jays the advantage 41-34.
Schulte said. “Great throw by Drew (Boggs) and a better route by TJ (Werts). Initially, it was supposed to be an outside route. It was covered, and TJ made a move to the inside. TJ has great hands, and he is a football player.”
The Jays’ defense returned to the field and needed a stop to seal their first conference win of the season. Out of a timeout, Fort Recovery was facing fourth & 4 at the Delphos 14-yard line, and the Blue Jays stood tall, deflecting Homan’s pass attempt.
Fort Recovery falls to 0-5 on the season, 0-3 in the MAC and will play host to New Bremen on Friday night. The victory for Delphos St John’s moved the Jays to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the MAC. DSJ heads to Anna in six days.
Score by quarters:
Ft Recovery 13 14 7 0 0 – 34
St John’s 7 0 14 6 7– 0
D – 8-yard run Grant Ulm (Braylon Metzger EXP Good)
F – 24-yard interception return Reece Wendel (Alex Garke EXP Good)
F – 33-yard run Troy Homan (Alex Garke EXP No Good)
D – 1 yard run Grant Ulm (Braylon Metzger EXP Good)
F – 1 yard run Troy Homan (2pt conversion No Good)
F – 51-yard pass Reece Guggenbiller from Troy Homan (2pt conversion Steinbrunner-Homan)
F – 1 yard run Reece Guggenbiller (Alex Garke EXP Good)
D – 4-yard run Grant Ulm (Braylon Metzger EXP Good)
D – 5-yard run Grant Ulm (Braylon Metzger EXP Good)
D – 16-yard pass TJ Werts from Drew Boggs (Braylon Metzger EXP blocked)
D – 20-yard pass TJ Werts from Drew Boggs (Braylon Metzger EXP Good)
Fort Recovery St John’s
12 First downs 18
354 Total yardage 396
98 Rushing yardage 323
256 Passing yardage 73
18/29/0 Passing (Com-Att-Int) 3-8-1
1-0 Fumbles-Lost 3-2
4-32 Punts-Average 2-35.5
6-28 Penalties-Yards 2-20
Passing: Fort Recovery – Troy Homan 18-29-256; St John’s – Grant Ulm 3-8-73.
Rushing: Fort Recovery – Caden Grisez 1-43 ; St John’s – Grant Ulm 21-121.
Receiving: Fort Recovery – Caden Grisez 8-108; St John’s – TJ Werts 2-36.
Nate Stidham wrote this story for LimaScores.com. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.