BATH TOWNSHIP — It’s always rewarding to make a game-clinching interception. But against your rival? That’s priceless.
Bath’s Kahne Sullivan intercepted the potential game-winning pass in the end zone with 3 seconds remaining Friday night, cementing the Wildcats’ 21-17 victory against Elida. That knocked the Bulldogs from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“There’s nothing better than catching that ball and realizing, ‘We’re going to win. This is real,’’” Sullivan said after the game.
Elida slipped to 4-1, 3-1 in the Western Buckeye League. Bath improved to 3-2, 2-2.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout, with the unfortunate twist of Elida’s star quarterback, Ryan McGue, going down with an injury. He’d completed a 48-yard pass to Jackson Covault just 2:53 before halftime, giving the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead. Elida coach Kyle Harmon said after the game McGue went to a local hospital, but he didn’t know the severity of the injury.
That injury changed the momentum of the game, including Elida becoming quite run-heavy for most of the second half.
“We’ve been throwing the ball downfield, and we’ve been able to be balanced,” Harmon said. “That made things tough on us. Isaac Earl stepped up and did a great job and battling, with the limited reps he’s had.”
Bath had tied the game early in the fourth quarter on sophomore quarterback Zach Welsch’s 1-yard touchdown run.
It looked like Elida was scripting a storybook ending, with back David Etzkorn taking over the game, rushing for 55 of his 110 yards on a fourth-quarter drive that ate up six minutes of clock and had him carry the ball on 10 of 12 plays. After Bath’s D stopped Etzkorn on a third-and-1, Elida settled for a 23-yard field goal by Ethan Ramsdail and the 17-14 lead with 1:16 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats had their own fairy tale ending in mind, though and didn’t take long to strike. Welsch found Ethan Cole a step ahead of his defender on a flag route, and Cole turned it into a 40-yard touchdown play with 50 seconds on the clock.
“The coaches gave us a great play to run, and my teammate got open,” said Weisch, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns while also running for one TD.
Skylar Lhamon had eight catches for 103 yards for Bath, which travels to Ottawa-Glandorf next week.
Elida tried to mount that one last comeback try, with Earl keeping the drive alive on a 17-yard scramble on third-and-10. The Bulldog backup got his team as close as the 24 before the tipped pass became an interception.
Elida travels to Celina next week in a battle of Bulldogs. Celina is the only 4-0 team in league play.
It was an emotional win for the Wildcats, who’ve been down in recent years. First-year coach Frank Russell brought in assorted speakers to emphasize the importance of the rivalry, and one story stuck out with him.
“We had our high school principal, Brian Jesko, talking about how back in 1997, when he was a senior, Elida had beaten Bath in the basketball tournament,” Russell said. “Someone sent him orange and black flowers 25 years later on the anniversary of that loss. Our kids know this rivalry means something.”
Bath 21, Elida 17
16 First downs 11
266 Total yards 306
154 Rushing yards 78
112 Passing yardage 228
10-20-3 Passing 19-28-1
1-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-2
4-31.3 Punts 4-28.3
8-70 Penalties 8-77
Score by quarters:
Elida 0 14 0 3 — 17
Bath 0 7 0 14 — 21
B-Skylar Lhamon 37 pass from Zach Welsch (Carson Myers kick), 8:02
E-David Etzkorn 8 run (Ramsdail kick), 6:44
E-Jackson Covault 48 pass from Ryan McGue (Ramsdail kick), 2:53
B-Zach Welsch 1 run (Lepley kick), 11:20
E-Ethan Ramsdail 23 FG, 1:16
B-Ethan Cole 40 pass from Welsch (Lepley kick), 0:50
David Trinko wrote this story for LimaScores.com. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.