CELINA — Celina was gobbling up chunks of yards through the air.
But Wapakoneta picked off three passes and made the key defensive stop at the end.
That was the difference for Wapakoneta in a 28-22 victory over Celina Friday at Celina Stadium.
The victory gave Wapak a share of the Western Buckeye League title with a 8-0 WBL record. Wapak is 8-1 overall.
“That means a lot to our program,” Wapak coach Travis Moyer said. “Honestly, that’s what we set goal number one to be every year, a WBL championship. Tonight we knew it would be a big game for us. It wasn’t always pretty, but we found a way to win the football game.’’
Celina is 6-3, 6-2 in the WBL after going 1-9 last year.
Celina quarterback Nick Adams completed 21 of 39 passess for 284 yards.
But Adams threw three interceptions.
“We came in with only one interception (on defense) all year,” Moyer said. “So obviously, that was crucial in terms of making big plays when we needed to. The first interception set up our first touchdown with a short field.
“It was a hard-fought football game tonight.’’
And the Redskins stopped Adams after he had it first-and-10 at the Wapak 49 with 1:59 to go.
Adams threw four straight incomplete passes and Celina turned it over on downs.
Wapak continually ground it out on the ground behind Jace Knous.
Knous finished with 171 yards on 24 carries with four TDs. He had TD runs of 3, 6, 45 and 9 yards.
Connor Meckstroth added 53 yards on nine carries.
Caleb Moyer had 23 yards on six carries.
Wapak led 14-6 at the half and it was 21-19 after three quarters.
While Wapak was pounding out its ground game behind Knous, Celina was tossing the ball down the middle and picking up chunks of yards that way.
But on Celina’s first drive, Celina quarterback Adams was picked off by Wapak’s Jordan Schneider at the Celina 38. He returned it 23 yards to the Celina 15.
Wapak covered the 15 yards for a score on six plays.
Knouse turned the left corner for a 3-yard TD to give Wapak a 7-0 lead with 7:54 left in the first quarter.
Celina went back to its passing game, with short passes and crossing patterns, to move the ball down the field.
Celina cranked out a 12-play, 93-yard drive for a TD.
Adams connected with Braylon Gabes in the left flat and Gabes spun and turned the short completion into a 21-yard TD.
When Celina’s point-after attempt was blocked, the Bulldogs were within 7-6.
Wapak then went back to the ground for a seven-play, 67-yard TD drive.
Knous carried six times for 43 yards on the drive. Moyer added one run for 24 yards.
Knous scooted around the left side for a 6-yard TD to give the Redskins a 14-6 lead with 3:38 left in the second quarter.
By halftime, Knous had 12 carries for 56 yards and two TDs.
In the air, Celina’s Adams completed 14 of 19 for 144 yards with one TD.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.