Riders Slay Titans

St. Marys' Christian Triplett leaps to catch a pass during the second quarter of a Western Buckeye League football game against Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday.
Sports Editor

Three first-quarter interceptions — all leading to scores — the most passing yards by St. Marys in more than a calendar year and a little shakeup in the defensive lineup paved the way to a 49-6 Western Buckeye League opening victory for the Roughriders against Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday at Skip Baughman Stadium.

Unlike last season's matchup that saw the Roughriders (2-0, 1-0 WBL) in a defensive battle with the Titans (1-1, 0-1), Friday's contest was a slugfest — albeit, one-sided.

The Roughriders scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the game for the second straight contest when quarterback Braeden Dunlap found Christian Triplett for a 39-yard passing touchdown.

Ottawa-Glandorf's first-year starter Jeremy Leopold had a rough evening by throwing interceptions in the Titans' first three drives with each interception turning into seven points for the Roughriders. However, a change in defensive scheme can be attributed to that.

Frye started Sean Perry at middle linebacker instead of safety, bumping Keegan Sawmiller to from middle linebacker to strong side linebacker (the right outside linebacker) and inserting Carson Fischbach and Carter Ballweg into the starting secondary.

The results yielded three interceptions from the secondary and 92 passing yards allowed in the game — just 50 passing yards in the first half.

Leopold's first pick was on a slant pass intended for Will Kaufman but undercut and picked off by Ballweg to set up the first of two Perry touchdowns — this one from 13 yards out — for a 14-0 lead.

Three plays in, O-G's second drive was interrupted by Dunlap's interception, setting up Perry's second rushing TD — this one of 15 yards — as the Riders led by three scores in the first 7:30 of the game.

O-G's longest drive of the first quarter — four plays — ended when Ballweg picked off Leopold — who is fresh off a torn labrum injury in his throwing shoulder — when he broke hard inside on a stick route and leaped over Nick Buckland for the INT.

The third turnover in the first quarter led to a Dunlap 1-yard QB sneak to conclude an eight-play, 63-yard drive that ate up 3:28 and leaked into the second quarter. That drive also included a 40-yard pass completion from Dunlap to Ballweg to get the Riders in Titans' territory. 

"He is a kid who has really come on this year and we have a lot of kids who are contributing, which is a real good thing as we try to grow as a football team," Frye said of Ballweg — who also caught the 33-yard reverse-halfback pass last week against Sidney that broke the game open.

Leopold's rough night continued when the junior committed his fourth turnover by fumbling the ball near the end zone on the Titan's ensuing possession.

After a Riders' punt on their next drive,  the Titans got on the board with a rushing touchdown by Leopold, despite the bad snap and failed two-point conversion — but the Roughriders struck through the air again before the half.

Kicker Josh Rosengarten booted the kickoff out of bounds, with St. Marys electing to re-kick. That decision proved to be a wise one for St. Marys as Ty Howell grabbed the squib kick and returned to O-G's 35 yard line.

On the next play, Dunlap — lined up in the "polecat" found Triplett in traffic as the senior wrestled with Clayton Recker to the end zone to go back up four scores, 28-6.

For a team in Ottawa-Glandorf to come into Friday's game as the top passing defense in the WBL — the Titans were bullied by a St. Marys team who came with 39 passing yards by racked up two passing touchdowns and 126 yards in the first half on Friday.

Other tidbits from Friday's game:

• The 21 points in the first quarter for St. Marys is the most in a regular-season game since scoring 21 against Defiance last season on Oct. 20, 2017.

• The 128 passing yards is the most from a St. Marys team since 123 last season against Sidney (Aug. 25, 2017).

• Dunlap has accounted for six of the Roughriders' 12 touchdowns so far this season.

• The Roughriders will be on the road for the first time this season when they travel to Van Wert next week.

To read the full story, grab Saturday's print edition of The Evening Leader.