Riders Power Past Bath

St. Marys’ Aiden Hinkle (3) attempts to run over Bath’s Austin Williams (1) during a Western Buckeye League football game on Friday at Grand Lake Health System Field.
Sports Editor

Another fast start, more special teams contributions and a typical St. Marys ball-controlled second half made up for an unusually sloppy evening in the Roughriders’ 35-7 Western Buckeye League victory against Bath at Grand Lake Health System Field.

“When we got up a little bit, we got complacent, I thought, but you have to give Bath credit,” Roughriders coach Doug Frye said. “I thought their kids played hard tonight and we have some things we need to clean up and get better at for sure if we are going to be the team we want to be in these last couple games of the season.”

St. Marys committed five first-half penalties for 59 yards and turned the ball over despite jumping out to an 18-0 lead at one point. But special teams accounted for nearly half of those first-half points and a minor tweak in the second half put the Roughriders in control the rest of the way for their fifth straight victory of the season as they slowly — but surely — inch closer to a playoff berth.

“I just think we started playing a little bit harder and doing the little things better,” Roughriders coach Doug Frye said. “There is always few little adjustments, but it is really just the basic fundamentals of the game that have to get better.

“Bath will be a force to be reckon with down the road, but this just wasn’t our cleanest game.”

For the fifth consecutive game, the Roughriders (6-2, 5-2 WBL) scored on their opening possession, albeit, not via the kickoff like the last two games.

Braeden Hemmelgarn, however, did take the opening kickoff to Bath’s 31 yard line as the Roughriders took eight plays to get on the board first with a Kurt Bubp quarterback sneak. The extra point failed, giving St. Marys a 6-0 lead. 

Special teams continued is success with a 71-yard punt return for the score by Trogdlon following a Bath punt on its opening drive. The two-point try failed to give St. Marys a 12-0 lead.

On the first play from scrimmage on Bath’s next possession, Ty Howell intercepted Wildcats’ quarterback Dalin McDermott and returned it 37 yards for the Roughriders’ first pick-six of the season and an 18-0 lead after a missed extra point by Brandon Bowers. 

Bath responded with its first touchdown in seven quarters dating back to its 13-6 win against Defiance  on Oct. 4 when McDermott scored on a QB sneak to close the game to 18-7. That drive was set up on a St. Marys’ fumble — its first turnover in four weeks — that began the Wildcats’ 68-yard scoring drive.

But the Wildcats (2-6, 2-5) did not score after that. 

With 26.7 seconds remaining in the first half, St. Marys turned a third and 22 into a manageable fourth and 3 when Frye’s staple play, the hook-and-ladder, ate up 19 yards. Bubp then found Trogdlon for a 3-yard gain and a defensive pass interference call with seconds remaining set up Bowers’ school-record tying 40-yard field goal as time expired to push the Riders’ lead to 21-7 at the half.

Special teams accounted for 9 of the Roughriders’ 21 points in the first half and have accounted for a combined 23 points in the first half of the last three games. 

Four possessions filled out the third quarter, with the lone scoring drive taking up 5:17. That possession saw a pair of fourth-down conversions for the Riders — with the last one being a 1-yard dive by Aiden Hinkle to make the score 28-7 with 3:56 remaining.

St. Marys pounded the ball inside nine times out of the 12-play drive to gain 35 of the team’s 63 yards. It was a slight adjustment made in the third quarter to get the running game going after Bath had kept it in check much of the first half.

“We were actually running the ball outside a lot so we tried to pound it inside a little bit more and take advantage of what was there at that point,” Frye added. “We thought some of the things we were doing in the first half was there, we were just not executing very well.”

Frye also relied on a handful of passing plays on Friday to loosen up the Bath defense, which — despite its record — entered Friday’s game allowing just 165.7 rushing yards per game.

‘I’m willing anytime to us any of those things,” Frye added.

Frye used his hooker-and-ladder play late in the second quarter to set up Bowers’ field goal and St. Marys scored its final touchdown on a halfback pass from Trogdlon to Howell for 19 yards on an under thrown pass that Howell snatched and beat the defender once he worked up the field.

“We had seen them on film and it was 7-3 a week ago with Wapak at the half and Coach [Ryan] Reindel really has his kids playing hard so we knew it was going to be a difficult ballgame, but to our kids’ credit, we jumped early on them — which I give the credit to our seniors for that,” Frye concluded. “I just don’t think we played with enough consistency and we will work on playing a cleaner football game the rest of the way.”