COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove’s defense was suffocating.
Grove’s defense held Leipsic to 23 yards rushing. It also picked off four Leipsic passes.
It all added up to a 23-0 Columbus Grove victory over Leipsic on Friday night at Clymer Stadium.
Columbus Grove is 3-4, 2-1 in the Northwest Conference. Leipsic is 3-3, 2-1 in the NWC.
“All three of our linebackers played well,” Columbus Grove coach Andy Schafer said. “(Tadd) Koch was just hitting. They were setting the edge and where were they going to go? They had to go up the middle and that’s not a good place to go with Tadd there in the middle. He was cleaning it up. He had the motor tonight.’’
The Bulldogs also registered four sacks on the Leipsic quarterbacks, including one by 6-foot-3, 240-pound Grove middle linebacker Tadd Koch, who made tackles all over the field.
“We lost our first NWC game in two years last week (to Allen East, 7-0) and it was business at practice all week,” Koch said. “Our defense had one goal, to shut them down and that’s what we did.
“I think we stayed disciplined all game tonight. In the fourth quarter, we stayed disciplined and read our keys and it worked.’’
Offensively, Grove was led by 6-1, 175-pound sophomore running back Trenton Barraza, who had 17 carries for 102 yards. He had a 16-yard TD.
Grove quarterback Brenton Renner completed 10 of 16 for 85 yards and one TD.
Grove’s Shep Halker had five catches for 56 yards.
Leipsic running back Hayden Hiegel was held to 11 carries for 31 yards.
Leipsic quarterback Quin Schroeder completed 9 of 15 for 67 yards. He had two of the team’s four interceptions.
“Quin is a good athlete and he can run,” Koch said. “When he rolled out, we always had a guy ready for him.’’
The only score of the first half was set up by the Columbus Grove defense.
Grove’s Halker picked off Leipsic quarterback Schroeder at the Leipsic 37 and returned it 25 yards to the 12.
It was just Leipsic’s second offensive play of the night.
The Bulldogs needed only two plays to score from the 12.
On the second play of the drive, Grove’s Renner threw a swing pass to Halker out of the left side of the backfield. Halker turned the corner and took it 13 yards for the TD.
After a missed PAT, Grove held a 6-0 lead at the 10:29 mark of the first quarter.
Grove’s main offense was running back Barraza, who had 10 carries for 47 yards at the half.
To start the second half, Barraza had four carries for 14, 10, 17 and a 16-yard TD to give Grove a 13-0 lead with 10:28 left in the third quarter.
The drive, four plays over 57 yards, was all Barraza.
“We ran the exact same play four straight times,” Schafer said of running Barraza. “We didn’t change it at all and got in the end zone. That’s awesome when we can do it.’’
Halker kicked a 34-yard field goal to push the Grove lead to 16-0 with 9:00 to play in the game.
Leipsic’s quarterback, Schroeder, was shaken up after making a tackle on a Grove punt return late in the third quarter.
Tommy Offenbacher came in to quarterback for Leipsic, but threw an interception to Grove’s Zach Reynolds at the Grove 45.
Reynolds returned it to the Leipsic 17.
Reynolds then ran the Wildcat at quarterback for Grove.
Reynolds took the snap and ran it for 10 yards to the 7. He then ran it in for a TD from the 7, again out of the Wildcat.
That gave the Bulldogs a 23-0 lead with 7:51 to go.
“We added a Wildcat package this week,” Schafer said. “That really helped us as a change-up.’’
The senior Koch is now the all-time leading tackler in Grove history.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said. “Grove is a football school, so any time you can put a record on that board, it’s awesome.’’
Tom Usher wrote this story for The Lima News.Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.