VAN WERT – Despite blowing a 19-point lead and only scoring six points in the second half, Van Wert pulled out a 32-27 victory over Ottawa-Glandorf in a key Western Buckeye League clash Friday night.
With the win, Van Wert, who suffered its first loss of the season last week to St. Marys, improves to 5-1 on the season and 4-1 in the WBL Ottawa-Glandorf falls to 3-3 and 3-2 in league play.
“We challenged them to really compete this week,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “We didn’t feel in the first half against St. Marys we competed last week and so we really challenged them and they came out in pregame and the whole fourth quarter.
Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ken Schriner called it a see-saw battle.
“It was two teams laying it on the line there,” Schriner said. “No regrets. Our kids battled hard. Their kids battled hard and they made one more play than us and doggone it you come up short and you hate to see it but I think both teams can be proud of the effort tonight.”
Led by the running and passing of Aiden Pratt and the legs of running back Nate Jackson, Van Wert forged a 26-7 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half and it appeared the Cougars were poised for a big win.
But the Titans rallied for a late score at the end of the second quarter and then carried that momentum into the second half by scoring 14 unanswered points to take the 27-26 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
But the Cougars rallied for one last score with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter to regain the lead and then held off two tries by Ottawa-Glandorf including a thrilling defensive stand in the final minutes when the Titans had driven down to the 11 yard line that ended with an incomplete pass to seal the game for the Cougars.
Pratt finished the game 14 of 18 for 246 yards and a touchdown. Pratt’s primary target proved to be Maddix Crutchfield who hauled in seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Jackson provided the punch on the ground, finishing with 104 yards and four touchdowns including a spectacular 23 yard jaunt that gave the Titans a 26-7 lead.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Landen Jordan was instrumental in bringing the Titans back from the 19 point deficit as he passed for 175 yards and one touchdown and ran for 108 yards on 19 carries.
Van Wert led Ottawa-Glandorf 26-14 at halftime.
The Cougars jumped out to the early 7-0 lead when they took the ball 47 yards in six plays to score on their opening drive. Cougar running back Nate Jackson, who had runs of 20 and 13 in the drive, plunged in from 2 yards out for the score.
The Titans knotted the score at 7-7 later in the first quarter when Ottawa-Glandorf went on a 40 yard drive that took nine plays and was capped off when Jordan ran it in from 11 yards out.
The tie did not last long as the Cougars promptly marched down the field on their next possession and went 37 yards in five plays to give Van Wert the 13-7 lead after a missed extra point with 11:57 left in the first half.
Van Wert increased its lead when they manufactured a 61 yard drive that took six plays and was highlighted by the touchdown pass of Pratt to a wide open Crutchfield for 46 yards and the paydirt. After the made extra point, Van Wert led 20-7.
Van Wert made it 26-7 less than a minute later. After the Cougars recorded an interception and Van Wert made Ottawa-Glandorf pay immediately when on the first play from scrimmage Jackson raced 23 yards for the touchdown. After a second missed extra point, Van Wert led 26-7 with 1:39 left in the first half.
But Ottawa-Glandorf had enough time to go 64 yards on five plays and scored a touchdown when Jordan found Caleb Kuhlman in the right corner of the end zone from 26 yards out.
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