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May 30, 2020

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Grove wins battle of Bulldogs

"We were dealing with a lot of guys banged up (coming in), and then we got more guys injured," said head coach Shawn Christopher. "I was proud of the young guys who came in and played well, and hard."

By Cort Reynolds - photos by Sue Mattson
ADA - The host Ada football team lost decisively to Columbus Grove 65-14 in a wet Northwest Conference contest last Friday night to spoil an intermittently rainy Homecoming.

The purple and gold fell to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in NWC play with the defeat. Surging Grove improved to 4-3 and 3-1 in league action with their third straight win.

"We were dealing with a lot of guys banged up (coming in), and then we got more guys injured," said Ada second-year head coach Shawn Christopher. "I was proud of the young guys who came in and played well, and hard.

"Grove got some pressure on us, that really hurt us," he continued. "Brandon (Hull) battled and gave us everything he had. He fought hard and showed a lot of passion for the game."

Strong-armed CG junior quarterback Blake Reynolds ran for two scores and threw five touchdown passes in just over two periods of action before taking the rest of the game off.

"I think he is the best quarterback in the NWC," said Christopher. "I actually thought he was the best in the league when he was a freshman two years ago."

Junior wideout Zac Swaney hauled in a 38-yard aerial on the first Ada possession from quarterback Brandon Hull for a promising start. But the drive stalled and they were stopped on fourth and 10 at the Grove 38.

CG immediately went 62 yards to score in just three plays to take the lead. Gabe Clement took a reverse around left end for a 33-yard gain to set the tone.

After a 10-yard run by Colin Metzger, junior QB Reynolds ran 19 yards up the middle to paydirt with 8:34 to go in the first period. The extra point kick made it 7-0 and capped a 52-second march.

Ada's next possession was kept alive by a late Grove hit, yet Hull was sacked by Jared Basinger for a loss of eight. On fourth and four at the 49, Reynolds brought down the Ada QB for a loss of six and a turnover on downs at the host 45.

The athletic Reynolds ran for 15 yards, then made a shifty 10-yard scamper. He then hit Alex Schneider on a screen to the left, and the receiver scurried 20 yards down the sideline for a touchdown at the 4:44 mark.

The PAT kick made it 14-0 as the drive took just 49 seconds.

Ada was stopped on its next possession and Bryce Paul's one-hop punt was fielded by Zac Ridenour on the run and returned 52 yards. But a an illegal block penalty on CG brought the ball back to near midfield.

On second down, Reynolds threw a long pass over the middle to an open Clement near the goal line for a 48-yard TD pass. The possession took just 14 seconds and two plays to cover 48 yards.

Rece Verhoff's third extra point kick extended the lead to 21-0 with 3:33 left in the opening stanza.

CG took over at the Ada 40 after partially blocking a punt. On the next play, Reynolds rifled a 40-yard TD pass to an open Schneider with 1:36 still left in the first period for a 28-0 lead.

Ada started the next possession on its own 29 and put together a 71-yard scoring drive. Hull sparked the march with a 21-yard run out of bounds to midfield.

On third and 16, Hull lofted a right side screen to Colby Curtis, and the speedy back weaved his 56 yards down the sideline for the first Ada TD with just three seconds left in the quarter.

Hull then tossed an off-balance two-point conversion pass to Daniel Mattson in the left corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 28-8.

CG then took possession at its own 22 and authored a long drive. A 37-pass to the Ada nine was negated by a penalty. On fourth and one at the purple and gold 27, Holden Purdy tackled Jaden Daniels for a two-yard loss to stop the march.

Hull then converted a fourth and one when he burst through the line for a 27-yard run. Daniel Mattson pulled down an aerial for 14 yards, and a late hit penalty advanced the ball to the Grove 14.

A Basinger sack helped bring up fourth and 15. Hull then scrambled to his right and just as he was about to reach the sideline under duress, he launched a pass into the end zone.

Swaney went up in traffic and pulled down a spectacular 15-yard TD reception with 6:06 left in the half. The two-point pass failed, but Ada was back in the game down just 28-14.

CG then took over at its own 40 after a kickoff went out of bounds. Reynolds put together a nifty 28-yard run on second down. The QB then rolled right and fired a strike to Schneider along the sideline.

The receiver made a nice leaping grab and sprinted the rest of the way for a 31-yard TD catch and carry. Verhoff's fifth PAT extended the lead to 35-14 as the drive covered 60 yards in 64 seconds over just three plays.

A 44-yard second down pass from Hull to Mattson advanced Ada to the CG 27. But a holding penalty and a big sack by Grant McCauley brought up second and 30, and Ada was forced to punt.

A late hit by Ada on the punt return helped give the visitors the ball at the purple and gold 48. A screen by Ridneour netted 10 yards.

Reynolds then pitched the ball left to Metzger, who eluded a tackler with a pretty spin move and rumbled 33 yards all the way to the Ada one.

On the next play, Reynolds rolled right and ran untouched one yard into the end zone with 54 seconds left in the half. The sixth Verhoff PAT kick made it 42-14 to cap the 66-second drive.

A 30-yard TD pass from Reynolds to Schneider early in the second half started the running clock with Grove on top, 49-14.

After an Ada turnover, Jaden Daniels authored a 48-yard TD run down the left side to make it 56-14 after yet another Verhoff extra point.

The Grove defense stopped Ada and forced a punt, which was blocked. CG lineman Jeff Meyer returned the loose pigskin 10 yards to paydirt to provide a 63-14 margin.

On first and goal from the Ada seven, a high snap was recovered by CG but they lost 22 yards on the play. Grove was later stopped just short of scoring again at the Ada two.

However, the CG defense recorded a safety on the next play to move the score to 65-14. Landon Schroeder returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD, but it was nullified by a block in the back penalty.

Freshman Brenton Renner played most of the second half at quarterback for Grove in relief of Reynolds. Buckey Smith later ran the ball to the Ada three, but CG ran out the final minute and did not try to score as time expired.

"(Freshmen) Spencer Wall and Conner Curtis, and juniors Luke Westover and Colton Beiderman gave us quality minutes," said Christopher. "They played hard and I was happy with the way they played and competed."

He also noted that big freshman Gage Hoffer started on the line on both sides of the ball.

Top Ada running back Keagan Hull left the game with a broken collarbone in the second period. Senior Holden Purdy was in and out with a shoulder injury, while Dylan East was slowed by hip injuries.
The loss ended injury-ravaged Ada's already slim playoff chances. It is only the third time in the last 14 seasons they will miss the post-season.

    1    2    3    4    F
Ada    8    6    0    0    14    
CG    28    14    21    2    65

Ada has been outscored by its opposition 354-230 this season, a 50.6 to 32.9 points per game average margin.

Ada slid to 22nd in the Region 23 computer rankings for Div. VI with the loss. Grove stayed 11th.

Kelly Preston was voted Ada Homecoming queen, and injured senior lineman Logan Conrad was named king in ceremonies before the game.