COLUMBUS GROVE — Spencerville came to Columbus Grove on Friday night in control of its own destiny with an undefeated record in the Northwest Conference.
Columbus Grove had just one league loss on the season in conference play.
However, it was Columbus Grove that took control, as quarterback Blake Reynolds torched the Spencerville secondary, completing 12 of 18 passes for 392 yards, including five of six TD passes to Gabe Clement. Clement hauled in seven passes for 304 yards to lead Columbus Grove to a convincing 49-23 victory over Spencerville at Clymer Stadium. Reynolds’ passing yards and TDs and Clement’s receiving yardage and touchdowns were school single game records.
Grove’s defense also made a strong statement, as it kept the potent Spencerville running attack in check.
With the win, Columbus Grove improves to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the NWC. Spencerville slips to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
“We saw it was open and we capitalized off of it,” Clement said about his big night. “It’s unbelievable. … It’s a night that I’ll never forget.”
Columbus Grove head coach Andy Schafer is pleased at how his team has progressed.
“I think the thing I am most proud of, is that I like to see teams that get better as the season goes on,” Schafer said. “There’s no question, from Week 1 to what we just played, that we’re a completely different team. We have a lot of confidence and our kids are playing well.”
Columbus Grove made a statement early, as it cashed in on its first possession of the game.
On the fourth play of the drive, Reynolds connected with Clement for a 53-yard touchdown pass. With the point after by Rece Verhoff, the Bulldogs led 7-0, less than two minutes into the contest.
Spencerville turned the ball over on its first possession.
Columbus Grove began its second drive of the night on its own 32-yard line.
The Bulldogs could not capitalize and was eventually forced to punt.
However, on Grove’s next possession, Reynolds and Clement connected once more. This time, it was a 48-yard scoring strike, as Clement caught the ball in full stride and pulled away from the coverage. With the extra point by Verhoff, the Bulldogs led 14-0 with 5:09 left to play in the first quarter. That score held up to the end of the first quarter.
Late in the first quarter, Spencerville got a golden opportunity.
After a Grove fumble on a punt, the Bearcats got the ball on Grove’s 23-yard line.
Nine plays later, DJ Bowens ran it in from six yards out to get the Bearcats on the board. With the extra point by Emerson Layman, the Grove lead was cut to 7, 14-7, with 9:50 left to play in the first half.
The Reynolds/Clement connection happened again.
This time, Reynolds connected with Clement for a 65-yard TD pass. With Verhoff’s extra point, the Bulldogs now led 21-7 with 9:29 left to play in the first half.
With 12 seconds left to play in the half, Layman booted a 30-yard field goal for Spencerville, to cut the Grove lead to 11.
In the first half, Reynolds was 6-of-10 passing for 222 yards. Clement hauled in four passes for 173 yards.
As a team, Spencerville rushed for just 73 yards in the first half. Bowens led the Bearcats with 28 yards on 10 carries. For the game, Spencerville rushed for 191 yards. Joel Lotz led the Bearcats with 84 yards on 16 carries.
Spencerville quarterback Josh Henline was 5-of-12 passing for 77 yards in the first half. For the game, Henline was 5 of 13 passing for 77 yards and two interceptions. Defensive back Evan Schroeder nabbed both of those interceptions for the Bulldogs.
“I think our scout team did a really good job of simulating what Spencerville does,” Schafer said. “We had some guys step up at practice this week and really give us a good look. I think that really showed.”
Spencerville came roaring out of the locker room in the second half.
Lotz broke loose for a 54-yard TD run on the first drive of the second half to cut the Grove lead to 5, 21-16. That scoring play took just three plays.
Columbus Grove answered.
On their next possession, the Bulldogs marched 73 yards in 12 plays to score. Colin Metzger ran it in from three yards out to cap off the scoring drive. With the extra point by Verhoff, Columbus Grove led 28-16.
Then it happened again.
After an interception thrown by Henline on Spencerville’s ensuing possession, Columbus Grove came right back with its bread and butter.
Reynolds connected with Clement, who then traveled 56 yards for pay dirt. With the extra point, the Grove lead was 19, 35-16. That score held up to the third stop.
The Bulldogs scored again, just seconds into the fourth quarter.
Reynolds found AJ Schafer open in the end zone for a 5-yard scoring strike, to extend the lead to 42-16.
Grove wasn’t done yet.
At the 10:38 mark of the fourth quarter, Reynolds threw a 45-yard scoring strike to Clement, pushing the Columbus Grove lead to 49-16.
Spencerville added a score with less than two minutes to play. Henline ran it in from two yards out.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.