ELIDA — For nearly three quarters of action, Friday night’s Western Buckeye League football matchup between Elida and visiting Celina was an old-fashion dogfight.
Down the stretch, the Bulldogs from Celina had the bigger bite, as Celina pulled away for a convincing 56-36 win over the Elida Bulldogs at Kraft Memorial Stadium.
Celina got off to a quick start, jumping out to a two-touchdown lead just a little more than four minutes into the game. Elida came roaring back to eventually take the lead in the third quarter.
Celina pulled away late in the game to record its first league win of the young season. With the win, Celina improves to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the WBL. Elida slips to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.
“Give credit to both teams,” Celina coach Brennen Bader said. “Each team kind of swung at each other, and both teams got back up when they had to. Fortunately, we ended standing up in the end. That is a good football team with a lot of speed and a lot of talent, and I know they’re kind of young. So, we feel very fortunate to come away with a win tonight.”
Celina rolled up 430 rushing yards and 157 passing yards. Elida’s offense recorded 167 rushing yards and 242 yards in the air Friday night.
Celina got out to a strong start.
On the opening drive of the game, Celina traveled 80 yards on 11 plays for its first score. Quarterback Brett Schwieterman connected with Cooper Jones for a 16-yard TD pass. With the point after by Austin Cotterman, Celina took an early 7-0 lead. On that opening scoring drive, Schwieterman was 4 of 4 passing for 53 yards.
After a three-and-out by Elida on the next possession, Celina came right back with a quick score. On the first play from scrimmage, Schwieterman found Bransen Miller open on the sideline. Miller hauled in the pass and covered the 48 yards to the end zone to give Celina a 14-0 lead just a little more than four minutes into the game.
Elida got on the scoreboard with less than five minutes to play in the first quarter with a 43-yard field goal by Noah Adcock, cutting the deficit to 14-3.
Elida finally found pay dirt early in the second quarter. Running back Marcel Poe (12 rushes, 111 yards) found a seam and scampered 70 yards for a TD, cutting the deficit to 21-9.
With less than six minutes to play in the first half, Adcock nailed a 39-yard field goal into a strong wind to cut the Celina lead to 21-12.
With 1:05 left in the first half, Elida quarterback Evan Unruh found Keshawn Spivey open in the middle of the secondary for a 38-yard scoring strike, cutting the deficit to 21-19.
Right before the halftime break, Schwieterman found Austin Okeley wide open in the end zone for a 15-yard TD pass. Celina went into the break with a 28-19 lead.
On its first possession of the second half, Elida cut the score to 28-26 on a 37-yard TD pass from Unruh to Spivey (eight catches, 154 yards).
Elida claimed its first lead on the night, 29-28, with a 23-yard field goal by Adcock with 5:06 left to play in the third quarter.
However, Celina answered. Celina scored with 2:38 left to play in the third quarter on a 5-yard TD run by Schwieterman to push back out to a 35-29 lead.
Celina responded again. This time, Kyle Zizleman ran it in from 2-yards out, extending the advantage to 49-29.
Elida added a TD midway in the final quarter, on a 1-yard TD pass from Unruh to Poe, to cut the deficit to 49-36.
Celina responded with a scoring drive capped off with a 7-yard TD run by Chase Stephens.
Bader gave a lot of credit to Elida’s effort.
“That freshman quarterback (Unruh) is the real deal,” Bader said. “He has some weapons too. He was getting ball off quick. His receivers made plays, and defensively we struggled. But overall, we got enough stops when we needed them.”
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