LIMA — Before the weather turned bad Friday night, Lima Central Catholic used its speed — which Jefferson head gridiron coach Bub Lindeman was most concerned about coming into the contest — to account for three big passing touchdowns to build a 21-7 lead over Jefferson.
When the teams returned to windy Lima Stadium Saturday afternoon to complete the Northwest Conference clash of unbeatens, the Thunderbirds turned to the ground game to finish off a 42-19 victory.
“LCC is just a good team. We picked our poison coming into the game,” Lindeman explained. “We decided to try and stop their run because that is what they are known for and take our chances with the pass. However, their speed showed on both sides of the ball. They made a concerted effort to run the ball the second half.”
LCC mentor Jerry Cooper agreed.
“We threw the ball extremely well Friday night. However, we didn’t run the ball like I wanted,” Cooper explained. “We looked at film between the halves and decided to focus on the running game. We got back to establishing the line of scrimmage the second half.”
LCC (5-0, 4-0 NWC) accumulated 485 yards offense — 225 passing and 260 rushing, 179 the second half. Jefferson (4-1, 3-1 NWC) had 206: 102 rushing and 104 passing.
As play resumed, a personal foul penalty on LCC (11 penalties, 112 yards; 5 personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct flags for 56 yards) from the final play of Friday’s first half allowed Jefferson to kick off from the Thunderbird 45. An onside kick was then recovered by Chris Truesdale, giving the Red and White (4-1, 3-1 NWC) the ball at the 34. They garnered one first down but on 4th-and-11 from the 24, Austin Jettinghoff (8-of-14 passing, 98 yards) completed an 8-yarder to Ross Thompson (6 grabs, 65 yards), turning the ball over on downs.
LCC had a fantastic 84-yard scoring run by Jon Washington (16 rushes, 96 yards) nullified on a penalty. However, they used a 7-play — all runs — drive (including a personal foul of the visitors) to get back on the board. At the Delphos 4, Colin Stolly — in the gun — faked running backs into the line and swept right end, getting to the pylon for the score. His PAT was wide right for a 27-7 edge with 5:48 to go in the third.
A 51-yard punt by Drew Kortokrax pinned the hosts at the 6 (after a penalty), eventually forcing a punt.
Jefferson took over at the LCC 48 but a play later, Kalito Lasenby picked off a pass and returned it 12 yards to the Jefferson 47. From there, it took eight running plays — four different carriers — to add to their lead. At the 11, Stolly again faked backs into the line from the gun, swept right end and found a seam to paydirt. On the fake extra point, Stolly, the holder, found Mykale Rogers for the 2-pointer and a 35-7 margin with 8:53 left.
The Wildcats, keyed by a 17-yard Truesdale kickoff return, retaliated with a 9-play, 60-yard scoring sequence. Jettinghoff was 2-of-4 on the drive for 39 yards, including a 4th-and-6 from the LCC 6 where he rolled right and found Thompson on an out route and dove for the pylon. Jettinghoff’s PAT was wide for a 35-13 deficit with 4:32 remaining.
LCC — with Stephen Saine recovering the onside kick at the 48 — finished its scoring with a 9-play drive (including 2 Delphos flags for 13 yards). On 4th-and-4 at the visitor 11, Stolly dropped quickly to the right and found 6-3 tight end Cory Stewart on the left side at the goal line. Stolly added the final point for a 42-13 margin with 40 ticks left.
The Wildcats replied with a quick 4-play drive (including 2 15-yard penalties against LCC) to march 64 yards. At the 1, senior Quinten Wessell (10 totes, 46 yards) bulled his way inside right guard for the six with one tick remaining. The conversion pass fell short of the goal line for the final margin.
“The wind was swirling today; it was tough to get much going in the air. They made it tough to run the ball today, too,” Lindeman added. “We told the kids to let this sting for 48 yards — that is a ‘rule’ we have — but at the same time, we lost to a good team. We don’t like losing but if you do lose, you want them to keep playing hard to the end; that is what we did. I expect us to come back (today) and get back to work at practice.”
Cooper knows his team has some issues to address but was overall pleased.
“We gave up a little bit took much on the run Friday night; we made a concerted effort to defend the run better today and we did so,” Cooper added. “We had far too many penalties and turnovers — that was true especially Friday night with the rain — but those are things we can and must correct.”
Friday night, LCC scored on a 78-yard TD toss from Stolly (5-of-9 passing, 225 yards, 4 TDS, 2 picks) to Rogers (2 catches, 89 yards) with 5:48 showing in the first.
They went up 14-0 on a 77-yard aerial from Stolly to Darius West at 2:58 of the first.
Jefferson retaliated by driving 13 plays and 69 yards to a 1-yard touchdown dive by Zavier Buzard (26 rushes, 61 yards) with 8:42 left in the half.
Scoring closed as Stolly connected with Sam Huffman for a 48-yard screen pass with no time left on the clock for a 21-7 lead. A personal foul was also called on LCC after the kick; after the game was delayed and then postponed to Saturday, the flag would be assessed then.
Both teams hit the road for NWC contests Friday: Jefferson at Crestview and LCC at Spencerville.