PANDORA — Columbus Grove opened its season in special fashion after the Bulldogs downed Pandora-Gilboa 31-6 Friday night.
Not only did the Bulldogs earn bragging rights over their Putnam County rivals but Columbus Grove got some big special teams contributions to help them to the big victory.
A blocked punt led to the the Bulldogs first touchdown, a nice return on a punt, aided by a penalty led to the second score and a 39-yard field goal from Rece Verhoff propelled Columbus Grove to a 17-0 lead at halftime
Columbus Grove head coach Andy Schafer also said another big part of the special teams was the kickoffs by Verhoff who continually put the Rockets’ at their own 20 yard line and that was a key component in the win.
“Our stat guy said they pretty much started they started every drive from their 20 and that is what you get when you have Rece Verhoff. That is certainly an important part of our game. It is hard for them to get the momentum when they are always backed into their own end zone.”
Schafer added that week one is when special teams matters the most and so they concentrated on that aspect of the game during the preseason.
“I was looking at scrimmage tapes and were probably the only ones doing live PATs but that was the only special teams. We practiced special teams a ton this week because we thought it could really break open the game and it certainly did.”
The Bulldog defense also played a major role in the win after they stuffed the Rocket running game. Pandora-Gilboa was limited to 43 yards on the ground for the game putting the passing game pressure on Dillan Krohn, making his first start as the P-G signal caller. The senior signal caller, under constant attack by the Bulldog front, was 11 for 19 for 153 yards and one touchdown.
Columbus Grove sacked Krohn twice.
“I thought the defense really held them the whole game except for one drive,” Schafer said.
On offense, Columbus Grove’s Brenton Renner was also making his debut under center but had the weapon of running back Collin Metzger in the backfield to help alleviate some of that first game pressure. Renner finished the game 9 of 15 for 77 yards and made some key throws when he needed to.
Metzger, who was a force last year, continued where he left off with 131 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. Metzger was the driving force in two time consuming drives to secure the win.
Metzger scored his first touchdown after Columbus Grove, stopping Pandora-Gilboa on its opening drive of the game, forced the Rockets to punt from their 41. The Bulldogs blocked the punt attempt and Collin Bonell scooped up the loose pigskin and appeared to score. However an inadvertent whistle was ruled and the officials placed the ball at the 5-yard line.
But it didn’t take long to score as Metzger, on the first place, easily jaunted into the end zone for six points.
The Bulldog special teams played a role also played a role in Metzger’s second touchdown. Metzger added his second touchdown when he bulled it in from 1-yard out and like the first six points, the Bulldog touchdown was thanks to the special teams. On a Pandora-Gilboa punt from their 26, Bulldog Trenton Barraza received the ball at his own 40 and ran it back to the Rocket 40. A unsportsmanlike penalty added 15 yards and the Bulldogs began their drive at the 25 yard line
Metzger’s third score capped off his big night when he bulled it in from a yard out late in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point on his performance.
“Offensively we kind of got it rolling,” Metzger said. “We had some early penalties that really hurt us…. I don’t know if the score said everything but that is what you get when you get an Pandora-Gilboa, Columbus Grove game. It is a physical hard hitting game.
“I really like the physicality of our team on both offense and defense. It is fun to see.”
Pandora-Gilboa avoided the shutout when the scored with 8.4 seconds left in the third quarter after Krohn dove in from a yard out to cap off a 64 yard drive. In the march downfield, Krohn connected with Collin Harris twice, including a 54 yard pass play that led to the touchdown.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.