ADA — Ada was looking to go into next Friday’s home game versus Lima Central Catholic at least tied with the Thunderbirds atop the Northwest Conference with 7-0 marks and 9-0 overall records.
Jefferson wanted to keep that from happening Friday night on a soggy War Memorial Stadium field in Ada but too many mistakes — 10 penalties for 81 yards chief among them — cost them in a 17-0 loss.
“We had our chances and opportunities but those mistakes hurt us; we shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Jefferson coach Bub Lindeman noted. “I felt we played well, especially defensively; we had the game plan to stop (Kellen) Decker and we did that. We felt we could handle their short passing game and maybe force them to throw deep. We did that, too; we just hurt ourselves too many times in crucial situations.”
Jefferson (6-3, 4-3 NWC) held on its first defensive series and gained a first down on their drive. However, with the first half featuring a steady light rain and thus a slippery ball, an interception by Micah Roberson of junior quarterback Austin Jettinghoff (3-of-13 passing, 104 yards) at midfield set up the Bulldogs for a 9-play scoring drive. With Jefferson focused on 1,300-plus-yard rusher Kellen Decker (20 totes, 84 yards), Ada head man Micah Fell turned to Mason Acheson (19-of-30 passing, 261 yards). At the Delphos 11, Decker used his receiving prowess to get into the end zone, grabbing a screen pass on the left side. The defense had him hemmed in but he kept his feet moving, slid through defenders and emerged into the end zone. Hunter Waller made it 7-0 at 6:18 of the first period.
Ada forced a 3-and-out and looked ready to go on another scoring drive, moving from the 35 to the Delphos 19 in six plays. Two runs around an incompletion left a 4th-and-19 and Acheson, under pressure, threw deep but junior Tyler Mox picked it off and returned it 45 yards to the Ada 45. However, two penalties for 20 years sent the ’Cats back to their 10.
The Wildcats seemed on the verge of overcoming that with a 60-yard Jettinghoff pass to Mox (2 catches, 86 yards) to get them out of trouble. However, on 4th-and-1 on play 10 at the Ada 10, a procedure penalty set the Red and White back and a fumble led to a 2-yard loss to end the threat.
Ada garnered the Delphos 13 in five plays — three of them pass plays of 14-plus yards — but the Wildcat ‘D’ pushed them back to the 42 and forced a punt.
Neither team could put together a scoring drive the rest of the half, though the Wildcats reached the Ada 11 as time expired.
That theme continued into the first drive of the second half: a 3-and-out by Jefferson.
However, it ended as the Bulldog put together a 10-play, 75-yarder, keyed by a pass interference on the Wildcats on 4th-and-5 at their 43. From the 22, Acheson hit Micah Roberson (5 catches, 65 yards) on a screen to the right side and the senior showed great patience behind his blockers to reach paydirt. Waller made it 14-0 with 6:44 showing in the third.
After Mox returned the kickoff 29 yards to the 39, the Wildcats reached the Ada 38 but a procedure call stymied that hope and they had to punt.
The next drive showed great promise, starting at the 16. They started to get room for junior Zavier Buzard (22 rushes, 87 yards) and gained the Ada 12 in 13 plays. However, on 3rd-and-4, Jettinghoff’s pass into the end zone was tipped away at the last second. On fourth down, another procedure penalty sent them back; dropping to pass, Jettinghoff was pressured and slipped to end the threat with 9:09 remaining.
Ada then used two big pass plays: a 30-yarder and 29-yarder to Matt Wilcox (5 grabs, 102 yards); to reach the Delphos 1 in nine plays. The defense held and Waller was good on a 20-yard field goal with 3:40 left for the 17-0 score.
Forced to make something happen, Jettinghoff went deep but was picked by Decker at the Ada 27. Delphos did force a punt but again, trying to stay alive, instead they roughed punter Jacob Ansley (7 catches, 74 yards) and the resulting first down helped the hosts run out the clock.
Jefferson visits Spencerville Friday to close the season.