TONTOGANY — Otsego scored three times in the second half on the way to a 21-6 win over Ottawa-Glandorf in a Division V regional semifinal game Saturday night.
The Knights, 9-0, now face Northern Buckeye Conference foe Eastwood, 7-1, in the regional final. The game will be played at Otsego on Nov. 7. In the regular season game between the two teams, Otsego posted a 17-7 win.
On Otsego’s first possession of the game the Knights moved to the 8-yard line, but had to attempt a field goal.
There was a bad snap by the Knights on the field goal attempt. Caleb Kuhlman then returned the ball 85 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown. The PAT failed and it was 6-0 with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter.
After a scoreless second quarter, the Knights received the second half kickoff and their offense moved 70 yards for a touchdown with 9:25 left in the quarter. Trent Leiter carried the ball four times for 45 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Devin Coon kicked the PAT to give Otsego a 7-6 lead.
“The energy was crazy from the sideline and everyone,” junior quarterback Joseph Dzierwa said about the quick score. “That’s when we started to believe. We have believed all along, but that’s when we really knew we could come down and score really quick.”
The 45 yards from Leiter on the drive were four more yards he had in the first half on 10 carries.
“We calmed them down at little bit at halftime. We made a couple of adjustments here and there. But the difference was that the guys up front, blocked well. … We challenged them at halftime and they got after it,” head coach Matt Dzierwa said. “And Trent ran hard in the second half.”
The good start in the second half gave the Knights some confidence.
“That was awesome … just being to come out at halftime and pound the game and go down and score,” Leiter said. “Just knowing we scored and were able to do it that fast it was … helpful for the offense and the defense to be able to do that coming off the half.”
An interception by Otsego’s Ryan Gray stopped Ottawa-Glandorf on its first possession of the second half.
The Knights then ran nine plays going 86 yards in 4:25 for a touchdown. Joseph Dzierwa connected with his bother Noah on a 9-yard pass for the touchdown. Coon’s PAT made it 14-6 with 1:21 left in the third quarter. Leiter rushed for 64 yards and Joseph Dzierwa was 3-of-3 passing for 20 yards on the drive.
Otsego’s defense held again forcing an O-G punt.
The Knights led by the offensive line and Leiter went 87 yards in 11 plays. Joseph Dzierwa scored on a 2-yard run and Coon connected on the PAT for a 21-6 lead with 4:27 remaining in the game. Leiter carried the ball seven times for 74 yards on the drive.
On their ensuing possession the Titans threw four incomplete passes and turned the ball over. The Knights then ran out the clock.
The Knights defense held the Titans to 200 total yards on 47 plays, including 165 passing yards.
“The kids on defense play hard. They get after it and they run to the ball,” coach Dzierwa said. “We are under-sized, but they play with a lot of heart and they play fast.
“We are not the biggest, fastest, strongest, but they play their butts off on defense … The defense played fantastic tonight,” he added. “We stopped the run and forced them to throw a little bit and we got pressure on them. And we had really nice (pass) coverage tonight.”
Meanwhile Otsego had 393 yards on 65 plays with 309 yards on the ground. Leiter finished with 247 yards on 33 carries, including 23 rushes for 206 yards in the second half.
“In the first half we came out a little slow,” Leiter said. “As the game was going on … we just picked up the speed. We ended up catching them off guard. When you catch them off guard and our line blocks as they do, our line is fabulous.
“The offense gets going and it really starts with the line.”
Leiter went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season in the first half. He now has 139 carries for 1,212 yards for the season.
OTSEGO 21, OTTAWA-GLANDORF 6
OTTAWA-GLANDORF 6 0 0 0 — 0
OTSEGO 0 0 14 7 — 21
O-G – C. Kuhlman, 85 return on a blocked punt (kick failed)
O – Leiter, 1 run (Coon PAT)
O – N. Dzierwa, 9 pass from J. Dzierwa (Coon PAT)
0 – J. Dzierwa, 2 run (Coon PAT)