DELPHOS – For a moment, Delphos St. John’s was close to making it a game again.
Then, just like that, Coldwater snuffed out the rally with a 72-yard fumble return for a TD by Mitch Niekamp.
That was the big blow for Coldwater just before halftime in a 41-0 victory over Delphos St. John’s on Saturday at Stadium Park.
The game finally kicked off at 8:58 p.m., after a one hour and 58-minute lightning and thunderstorm delay.
But the delay didn’t slow down the Cavaliers.
“We’re a pretty loose team,” Coldwater running back Ben Wenning said. “We just sat in there and talked. We knew what we had to do. We went through it (a two-hour delay) with Clinton-Massie (a 31-28 win) in week two. We’ve done it before and came out pumped up and played our game.’’
Coldwater scored on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead.
Coldwater is 7-0, 5-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference. The Cavs are also first in the Division IV, region 24, of the computer rankings.
St. John’s is 1-6, 0-5 in the MAC.
“Our kids play hard; we ran into a better football team tonight,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “They capitalized on the mistakes we made.’’
It marked the second game back for St. John’s quarterback Jared Wurst, after missing four in a row with an ankle injury.
But out for the year is St. John’s tailback Brady Grothaus, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, which needed surgery, in Week 2 against Lima Central Catholic.
“That’s where we’re at,” Schulte said. “We don’t make excuses for injuries. … This conference isn’t very forgiving when it comes to injuries and things like that.’’
Coldwater held a 21-0 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half.
That’s when Coldwater quarterback Jake Hemmelgarn went back to toss a screen pass to his left.
Blue Jays defensive end Dominic Metzger leaped at the line of scrimmage and tipped the pass straight up in the air. It came down in Metzger’s hands for an interception at the Coldwater 25. He returned it to the Cavs’ 20 with 1:17 left in the half.
On the Jays’ fourth play after the interception, Wurst went back to pass and lost control of the ball, and it hit the sloppy ground at the Cavs’ 28.
Niekamp scooped it off the mud and returned it 72 yards for a TD.
That ballooned the Cavs’ lead to 27-0 with no time left in the first half.
“In a nutshell, that’s our season right there,” Schulte said. “That one play.’’
Added Coldwater coach Chip Otten, “Obviously that was a huge momentum breaker for them. If they go in and score, it’s a 14-point game, and you don’t know.
“But those are some of the plays if your year isn’t going great, those kind of things happen, and when your year is going pretty good, it happens the other way.’’
Niekamp ended up with five carries for 30 yards and three TDs. He had TD runs of 4 and 27 yards, along with the scoop-and-score play on defense.
Wenning had four carries for 57 yards, with a 27-yard TD run for the Cavs. He also had three receptions for 40 yards.
“Mitch (Niekamp) and Ben (Wenning) are our heartbeats,” Otten said. “They are tough, high school football players.’’
Hemmelgarn completed 10 of 17 for 128 yards. He had two interceptions.
Wurst led the St. John’s offense with 19 carries for 54 yards. He completed 5 of 19 passes for 62 yards. Devin Lindeman had seven carries for 23 yards.
The Cavs had solid play on offense, defense and from their special teams.
Coldwater got a special-teams boost for its first score. Punt returner Zack McKibben returned St. John’s first punt 62 yards to the Blue Jays’ 4-yard line. One play later, Niekamp went straight up the middle for a 4-yard TD. That gave Coldwater a quick 7-0 lead with 10:03 left in the first quarter.
Coldwater scored again the second time it touched the ball. The Cavs went 68 yards in six plays for the score. Wenning turned the right corner and looked like he was bottled up near the line of scrimmage. He suddenly popped out of the traffic and went 22 yards for a TD.
That gave the Cavs a 14-0 lead with 5:21 left in the opening quarter.
“I was trying to get the first down, and then I saw I could get out of there,” Wenning said. “I spun off, and there was nobody. It was a crazy play. It was a great job by our offensive line.’’
Coldwater scored very early in the second quarter on a five-play, 39-yard drive.
Niekamp swept the left side for a 7-yard TD and it was 21-0 Coldwater.
“Our kids kept fighting, but a team like that, they take your will away from you after a while,” Schulte said.