FORT RECOVERY — The weather Friday night may have been more suitable to a bunch of ducks or even alligators in a swamp.
Needless to say, the Midwest Athletic Conference football clash between St. John’s and Fort Recovery at soggy and windy Fort Recovery Field meant the running games would be of prime importance.
The Blue Jays (4-3, 3-2 MAC) outgained their foe 271-53 (48 carries versus 26) and dominated the Indians 28-0.
The Jays outgained the Tribe 319-64 in a dominating defensive performance.
“The weather made it hard to get anything going passing the ball, so we wanted to establish the line of scrimmage and run the football. We wanted to even before the weather made it crucial,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “Despite the tough footing, we got off the football very well up front. We had some long drives, which we’ve been striving for; we have struggled putting together those type of drives all season. Our offense was on the field a lot.”
Fort Recovery coach Brent Niekamp had another perspective.
“We couldn’t establish our running game at all,” Niekamp explained. “They could play a conservative pass defense against us because of the weather and still control the line of scrimmage.”
Junior tailback Tyler Jettinghoff proved he was a “mudder” by gaining 226 yards on 25 totes and two touchdowns for the Blue and Gold.
As per the game plan of Schulte, the Jays established the run on the very first series, despite going against a stiff wind with the rain falling. Jettinghoff ran eight times for 65 yards in the 13-play, 74-yard sojourn. At the Indian 11, senior quarterback Mark Boggs (5-of-11 passing, 48 yards; 9 rushes, 28 yards) faked junior fullback Luke MacLennan (6 rushes, 19 yards) over left guard and kept it, turned up and powered to the end zone. Senior Andrew Metzger added the point-after for a 7-0 lead with 6:18 on the first-period clock.
After forcing a 3-and-out for the Tribe (3-4, 1-4 MAC) offense, the Jays used a quick 2-play, 73-yard drive. Jettinghoff swept right end and behind lead blockers MacLennan and Boggs and pulling guards Seth Bockey and Luke Wrasman, Jettinghoff was virtually untouched to the sideline and then turned on the jets as he outran the secondary to the end zone. Metzger made it 14-0 with 3:23 showing in the period.
The Indians gained Blue Jay space but on play seven, Mason Evers (2-of-7 passing, 11 yards; 17 totes, 31 yards) was picked off by sophomore Evans Hays at the guest 29. However, a play later, Fort Recovery’s Evan Schoen grabbed an interception at the Jays’ 39.
Two plays after that, Jettinghoff — playing linebacker — picked off another Evers’ aerial.
The Jays gained one first down before punting.
On their next series, the Blue and Gold traveled 53 yards in 10 plays, keyed by a 24-yarder from Boggs to senior Jake Hays. At the Indian 4, MacLennan ran a trap play inside left guard and bulled to the end zone with 58 ticks showing in the half. Metzger tacked on the final point of the half for a 21-0 spread.
With the rain falling heavier as the second half began, both teams struggled to put a scoring drive together — except once.
After giving up one first down to the Tribe but forcing a punt, the Jays pieced together that scoring sequence: 15-plays, 68 yards, including a 12-yard scramble by junior Cody Looser on a bad punt snap. At the Recovery 11, Jettinghoff took a handoff off left guard, made one cut and pushed his way to paydirt with 1:02 showing in the third. Metzger accounted for the final tally in the 28-point victory.
“The defense played very well against Evers. He was their main weapon and had run for 1,000 yards in six games,” Schulte added. “Our game plan was to have our front four dominate the line of scrimmage and allow our linebackers to flow. We played very well with gap control up front and didn’t give up many holes.”
Niekamp felt that it wasn’t only Jettinghoff that was a weapon.
“I felt coming in that their entire backfield was capable of the big play,” he added. “That forces you to cover all three players and spreads you out. Jettinghoff gets a lot of the credit because he’s that good but the others can break one at any time.”
The Jays return to Stadium Park Friday to host Versailles, while Fort Recovery visits Minster.