SPENCERVILLE – Allen East is heading to the Northwest Conference championship game thanks to its defense.
The Mustangs, who came into the game with one of the most potent offenses in the area, got the job done on the other side of the ball by stuffing the Spencerville running game and shutting out the Bearcats 17-0 Friday night.
The win ends a nine-year losing streak to Spencerville and the Mustangs improve, to 4-1 on the season. Spencerville drops its first game of the season and falls to 3-1.
Allen East will travel to Columbus Grove for the championship game Friday.
“Spencerville is a good program and that is what they pride themselves on and we did a good job and just being downhill and matching their physicality and just being aggressive,” Allen East head coach Joel Billings said. “This is a testament to our seniors,” Billings said. “They have done a lot of firsts with the playoffs and a league championship last year. We haven’t beaten these guys since 2010 so it is a testament to what they have done.”
Allen East put the clamps on Spencerville running back Gunner Grigsby all night. Grigsby rushed for 82 yards on 22 carries but never broke off the big play that he has done in the past.
Spencerville finished the game with 165 yards on the ground.
The last time the Bearcats were shutout came in 2017 when they were beat by Marion Local 55-0 in a playoff game.
In the second half, the Mustangs’ superb defensive effort shined when they forced a fumble and had two huge fourth down stops and then an interception late in the fourth quarter to stop Bearcat drives.
“Hats off to Allen East,” Spencerville head coach Chris Sommers said. “They are a really good football team, and they played really hard. Our guys played really hard too. I am proud of our guys there but we ran out of gas there a little bit but that is a credit to them.”
Offensively, the Bearcats did a solid job of keeping the high-flying Mustangs grounded throughout much of the first half as Allen East went to the ground more than the air in the first half.
However, Tyler Clum showed off his passing prowess in the second half. After going 8 for 10 for 79 yards in the first half, Clum was 11 of 16 for 157 yards and one touchdown in the final two quarters. He finished the game 19 of 26 for 226 yards and one touchdown.
The lone touchdown came proved to be the backbreaker for Spencerville when, at the Bearcat 37-yard line, Clum connected with Blake Hershberger on a screen and the crafty wide receiver maneuvered his way to the end zone with 4:27 left in the game. After the successful extra point, Allen East held a 17-0 advantage.
“We wanted to be more balanced this week,” Billings said. “We wanted to give some young guys some carries this week. We had some of them step up and run the ball against a pretty good defense.”
Mustang running back Wyatt Paxson, a sophomore, ran the ball eight times for 27 yards and one touchdown and freshman Jack Hole carried the ball six times for 30 yards.
The Mustangs’ Bradden Crumrine caught 9 passes for 100 yards.
Allen East held a 7-0 at halftime.
Despite the top two offensive teams in the NWC, it was the defenses that stood tall.
Spencerville forced a fumble on the Mustangs’ first drive to stop Allen East’s march down the field.
Allen East got on the scoreboard first when Wyatt Paxson rumbled in from 2-yards out to cap off a 11 play 60 yard drive. After the extra point, the Mustangs led 7-0 with 11:27 left in the first half. On the Mustang scoring drive, Clum completed three passes for 35 yards.
The Mustangs tried to add to their score with a 47 yard field goal attempt as time ran in the first half but the kick was short.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.