ELIDA — Both Elida and Celina moved the football in the first half of Friday’s Western Buckeye League matchup at Kraft Memorial Stadium.
Both squads struggled to find the end zone in the first two quarters.
However, in the second half, both offensive units started to cash in.
After Elida claimed the lead early in the second half, Celina reclaimed the lead in the fourth quarter, and hung on for a hard-fought 21-17 victory.
With the win, Celina improves to 2-2. Elida slips to 2-2.
“First half, offensively, we felt really good about it,” Celina head coach Brennen Bader said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot a few times with some penalties and things like that. Once we fixed the details, offensively, we were great. … We figured it out in the second half.”
Celina finally erased the goose eggs on the scoreboard with 2:36 left to play in the first half.
Celina quarterback Cooper Jones connected with Conner Altstaetter for a 34-yard touchdown pass. With the point after by Carter Altstaetter, Celina had the seven-point lead.
In the first half, Jones was 11 of 19 passing for 109 yards. Jones ended the night, 19 of 28 for 183 yards and two touchdown passes.
On the opening drive of the game, Celina chewed up 6 ½ minutes, but turned it over on downs.
For the remainder of the first quarter, both teams could not capitalize on their drives.
The game was scoreless by the end of the first quarter.
With time running out in the first half, Elida got on the scoreboard with a 36-yard field goal by Aidan Bartels to cut the Celina lead to 7-3.
Elida quarterback Larkin Henderson led Elida in the first 12 minutes of action, with 36 yards rushing on five carries. Henderson had 56 yards rushing by the halftime break. For the game, Henderson rolled up 93 yards on 15 carries.
As a team, Elida rushed for 105 yards in the first half. For the game, Elida rushed for 249 yards. Andrew Etzkorn led Elida with 125 yards rushing on 23 carries, with a TD run.
Elida stayed with its running attack to open the second half.
The home Bulldogs marched 63 yards on 12 plays in their opening drive of the third quarter to take the lead. Etzkorn capped off the scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run. With the point after by Tyler Long, Elida claimed its first lead on the night, 10-7.
Celina responded on its next possession.
Celina mounted a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Jones found Quinn Andrew for a 6-yard TD pass. With the extra point, Celina had reclaimed the lead, 14-10, which held up to the end of the third quarter.
Elida came right back in its next possession and drove right down the field to reclaim the lead, 17-14. Henderson ran it in from 14 yards out to cap off the scoring drive.
Etzkorn had a huge second half for Elida. The senior running back rushed for 107 yards in the final two quarters.
However, Celina came roaring back.
Celina promptly traveled 61 yards on seven plays to reclaim the lead for good.
Jaxson Silliman ran it in from a yard out for the score.
Elida took the ball over with a little more than four minutes left to play in the game.
However, Celina was able to stave off an Elida drive to secure the road victory.
“Defensively, we played well in the first half,” Bader said. “They (Elida) made some adjustments, and we had to make some fourth-quarter adjustments to counter what they were doing. Fortunately for us, we got enough stops. I’m just proud of our kids. They played hard on both sides, and we found a way. That’s what it’s all about – being able to respond to adversity; and we did that.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.