COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove left no doubt who the Northwest Conference champions were this year.
The Bulldogs, who had already garnered a share of the title last week, made sure it was all theirs this week after beating Bluffton, 31-0, Friday night.
The Bulldogs end the regular season with an unblemished overall record at 10-0 and an undefeated 7-0 record in the conference. Bluffton falls to 2-5 in the NWC and 5-5 for the year.
“It’s huge. It is everything,” Bulldog head coach Andy Schafer said. “We talked about it and at the beginning of the season, especially what we lost last year, everybody kind of doubted us and said ‘well, I think the NWC is tough this year and there is no way somebody is going to win it outright and there is going to be a share,’ and our kids kind of took that to heart and said ‘we’ve got the guys to do that,’ and certainly the Northwest Conference wasn’t down. It was a good conference.
“We have some tough, physical football players and they kind of step up to those challenges and it was nice to see.”
As has been the case throughout the year, the Bulldogs’ running game carried the offense and the stingy defense prevented the Pirates from effectively moving the ball.
Initially, the Bulldogs, despite moving the ball effectively early, turnovers prevented them from putting points on the board but once they broke through in the second quarter, the Bulldog machine was nearly unstoppable.
Columbus Grove running back Collin Metzger, who can thank his offensive line for some solid blocking, finished the night with 153 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries. Metzger’s touchdown run of 49 yards, made possible by a pancake block from Joe Kohli, gave Columbus Grove its second touchdown to go up 14-0 after the successful extra point with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half.
Bulldog quarterback Jacksen Schroeder, who was in for the injured Brenton Renner, showed off his versatility as he rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries Schroeder’s scampered for a 45-yard touchdown to give Grove a 21-0 advantage with 10:10 left on the clock on the in the third quarter.
Schroeder displayed his passing abilities by completing 8 of 12 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown.
“He certainly got to work on his throwing ability but his legs were unbelievable,” Schafer said. “Honestly, his throws were pretty much on the money early. He might not have had the velocity on them but they were in the right spot and catch-able balls.”
The Bulldog defense put in another dominating performance recorded its second shutout on four games. This also marks the eighth game this year that the Bulldogs have limited an opponent to single digits or less. Columbus Grove has given up
Columbus Grove is giving up an average of 7.5 points a game this year.
The Bulldogs made two interceptions, including one from Luke Kaufman that set up Columbus Groves’ second touchdown and recorded two fumble recoveries. Kyle Hopkins had the other interception for Grove.
“It was nice to see our defense put up a goose egg on a very talented offense in Bluffton,” Schafer said. “They are really coming on strong and it is a nice time for it because now we are going to see teams that we don’t necessarily know and we have to look to see who we are playing. We have no idea but it will be one game at a time.
“The thing I like about it is we can go against a Spencerville offense one week, a wing-T, smash mouth in your face offense one week and then adjust to one of the top quarterbacks in the league as far as running go. It is nice to see stop not just one dimension of a team but two dimensions.”
Columbus Grove kicker Rece Verhoff had a 36-yard field goal.