Turnovers sabotage Riders' upset bid against Celina

CELINA — The St. Marys football team watched its hopes of an upset against Celina slip out of its hands and then run away late.

Celina exploded for 35 second-half points to pull away in the Battle of Grand Lake St. Marys 49-23 at Celina Stadium on Friday night.

The Bulldogs stay in the thick of the Division III playoff race and within a game of Western Buckeye League leader Kenton.

St. Marys at Celina Football Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smeveningleader/sets/72157636203842423/show/

The St. Marys offense put up 419 yards of offense, rushing for 331 yards. The Roughriders even had a three-point lead midway through the third quarter.  But three lost fumbles sabotaged promising drives and gave the explosive spread offense of Celina all the opportunities it  needed to run away with the game.

“If we don’t put the ball on the ground, they’re not stopping us,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said. “We ran what we wanted to run. We ran jet sweep, we ran trap, we ran counter quarterback. Celina’s kids played hard and beat us up, but we stopped ourselves.”

Celina has now won three out of the last four against St. Marys, which falls to 0-6 and 0-5 in the WBL. The 49 points Celina scored is the most they’ve ever put up against the Roughriders in the long-running series between the lake rivals.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Celina head coach Trent Temple said. “We’ve obviously have to got to get a lot better than the way we played tonight. We didn’t play well on either side of the ball in the first half. In the second half we got better on offense, but we didn’t get better on defense. We’ve got to find some answers. We’re still searching for some answers.”

They’ll make that search with a 5-1 record and a 4-1 mark in the WBL.

“I wouldn’t say we let it slip away because that makes it sound like Celina didn’t deserve it,” Phillips said. “Celina gameplanned really well and did a few things we hadn’t seen. We had them on the ropes and they turned it up a notch. But I’d just like to see a game where we don’t turn over the football and we make some tackles and see what happens.”

Celina running back Louden Limon rushed 11 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

“He’s a physical runner and he runs downhill,” Temple said. “He’s one of those kids if you put the ball in his hands he’s going to get you those hard three or four yards every time. He’s tough to bring down. He’s a power back in a spread offense and that’s a nice weapon to have.”

Missed tackles in the second half plagued a St. Marys defense that was asked to come up with big stop after big stop.

“We’ve been up to 18 or 19 missed tackles per game and you’re not going to win games like that,” Phillips said. “If you turn it over and miss tackles, you’re going to lose.”

Bulldog quarterback Caleb Hoyng went 12 of 18 for 205 yards passing with two touchdown passes — inlcluding a touchdown toss on the first play from scrimmage on a double-reverse flea flicker. The 54-yard touchdown strike went to wideout Braelen Bader.

“We knew we were going to do something like that on the first play of the game,” Temple said. “We scored on something like that last year on the first play.”

Bader also rushed for a touchdown to go with his three catches for 97 yards. Hoyng ran for 73 yards on six carries.

St. Marys moved the ball up and down the field and had a 17-14 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Roughriders fumbled away the ball three times, threw an interception and allowed Celina to recover an onside kick in the third quarter.

St. Marys fullback Trent Wale had 162 yards rushing on 24 carries with touchdowns of 33 and 10 yards.

But three fumbles undid all that production for St. Marys.

“We knew St. Marys had turned the ball over a lot so we wanted to get a hand in there and get the ball and created some turnovers,” Temple said. “Good thing we did, because they were driving the ball. If we hadn’t created those turnovers, they probably would’ve scored and who knows what the outcome of this game ends up being?”

Phillips loved the play of his offensive line. “They played really well this week,” Phillips said. “They were real consistent. We felt like we could call anything we wanted to call.”

St. Marys hosts Defiance, which lost to Wapakoneta 52-7 on Friday night at Fred J. Brown Stadium.