(Story originally appeared November 14th, 2018)
By: Kent Hutchison
DEFIANCE- Unlike Edgerton’s first playoff opponent, the ground dependent Norwalk St. Paul Flyers, the Pandora-Gilboa Rockets provided a different challenge for the Bulldogs.
The Rockets entered the contest heavily reliant upon their potent passing attack lead by All-State quarterback Jared Breece. P-G’s dependency upon the pass was even more evident recently since losing their leading running back, Peyton Traxler, who suffered a season ending broken ankle in week nine. The Rockets came into the November 10, game averaging 228 yards passing, while still averaging a respectable 153 yards per contest rushing.
However with that being said, once again the Bulldogs were able to rise above another challenge. This time the defense shut down the pass, as well as the run, limiting Pandora to a total of just 125 yards, including only 71 through the air.
Edgerton’s defense’s efforts, as well as their continued offensive dominance, resulted in yet another unexpected rout. This time the Bulldogs ended the Rockets season by handing them their first loss of the year by a final score of 52-8!
The Bulldogs received the opening kick. Braydon Cape caught the ball on the 15, and was tackled at the Edgerton 30 yard line. The Bulldogs started in similar fashion to last week. Edgerton needed just three and half minutes to find the end zone.
The 11 play, 70 yard drive was capped off by a nine yard touchdown scamper by Hunter Prince. Quarterback Clayton Flegal added the two point run to put Edgerton up 8-0.
Pandora’s first possession began at their 42. After getting one first down, the Rockets brief moment of success was quickly halted when Eli Branham registered a sack on second down, leaving P-G with a 3rd and 15. An incomplete pass, and subsequent punt on fourth down, gave Edgerton the ball back on their 16 yard line after Cape fair caught the kick.
This series of downs saw Edgerton display a nice mix of running and passing. Prince gained three yards on first down, then Flegal found Greg Roth for a 13 yard gain. Flegal attempted a QB keeper, but lost three yards. However on the next play Flegal found Cape wide open in front of the Edgerton bench.
Cape sprinted 54 yards, finally being caught from behind at the P-G 18 yard line. Prince added one yard on first down, but a reverse by Cape resulted in a loss of four. Facing third and 13, Flegal hit Cape again, this time adding 11 yards to move the ball to the 10 yard line.
Facing a fourth down and two yards to go, Flegal called his own number and didn’t stop as he escaped from the grasp of a Rocket defender, who grabbed his face mask and jersey, and ran across the goal line. Once again Flegal kept the pigskin to add another 2 points. All told the Bulldogs covered the 84 yards in 9 plays to push the lead to 16-0.
A short kick by Edgerton gave Pandora the ball with good field possession at their 40. However, the Bulldog defense held strong and forced Pandora into a three and out after gaining just 3 yards total on a run and two complete passes.
The punt came to rest at the Edgerton 23 yard line. With just 16 seconds left in the first quarter, the Bulldog offense went back to business. Flegal connected with Logan Showalter for a 20 yard gain. Prince started the second period with a run that resulted in a one yard loss.
However, the Pandora celebration was short lived. On the very next play Roth ran right up the middle of the Rocket defense and sprinted away from everyone for a 58 yard scoring jaunt! Flegal added his third consecutive 2 point run to extend the advantage to 24-0. This time Edgerton used just 3 plays and barely over a minute to cover the 77 yards.
Obviously shocked by the Bulldog onslaught, Pandora began their third possession of the contest at their 35. On first down, Cape made a great play to break up a pass. On second down Breece dropped back to pass. When he was unable to locate an open receiver, the quarterback used his legs to provide the biggest offensive spark of the night for the Rockets by gaining 23 yards.
Although this was a setback to the Bulldogs, it’s importance paled in comparison to another result of the play. Flegal, not only Edgerton’s star quarterback, but also an integral part of the Bulldog defense, laid on the ground in front of the Edgerton sideline writhing in pain from an apparent ankle injury. Suddenly the boisterous Edgerton crowd fell silent.
Coincidence or not, Flegal’s absence seemed to shake up the Bulldog’s psyche. In the next nine plays, Breece used both his arm and legs to cover the 42 yards. The final play was a one yard touchdown run. After Breece found Larcom alone in the southwest corner of the end zone, Pandora had trimmed the deficit to 24-8, with 7:31 remaining until halftime.
While Flegal was receiving medical attention from the Edgerton trainer and other medical staff on hand, the Bulldog’s took back over on offense at their 28 yard line with Jaron Cape assuming the field general duties.
Edgerton didn’t miss a beat responding by ripping off 10 consecutive running plays, utilizing four different ball carriers. On a fourth and goal from the Rockets three yard line, Prince added another touchdown, just barely reaching the ball across the goal line.
Braydon Cape added the two point conversion as the Bulldogs were able to concentrate on the task at hand in spite of their concern for Flegal, and extend the lead to 32-8.
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The score seemed to take any wind left in the Rockets sails out. Beginning at their 33 yard line, P-G completed a pass for just a one yard gain. Two incompletions later, the Rockets were faced with a fourth and nine from their 34 yard line. Once again Braydon Cape was able to break up the pass, giving the Edgerton offense great field possession.
With 2:33 remaining before intermission, the Bulldogs, with Flegal back behind center, needed just 1:27 to add to the point total. An incompletion to Cape, resulted in P-G being assessed a personal foul for roughing the passer. Prince gained two yards, then Roth added 15 more. Prince went the final two yards for another TD, his third of the half.
Although Roth’s conversion run was stopped short, Edgerton had the game well in hand leading 38-8. Pandora had just 1:21 left before halftime to attempt to take any positive momentum with them into the locker room. Burkholder had one of the few successful running attempts of the night gaining 7 yards. However, the Bulldog defense ended any hopes left for the Rockets as on the next play Showalter and Tylor Hartman met in the backfield to sack Breece.
After Nolan Swank extended to deflect the ball away from the Pandora receiver, the Rockets, now facing a 4th down and 8 from their 24 yard line, were left with little choice but to punt.
The kick rolled to the Bulldogs’ 38 yard line. With 1.2 seconds left, Jaron Cape took a knee and both teams headed to their respective locker rooms, obviously with totally different emotions.
To the surprise of many in attendance, and assuredly no one from the Pandora-Gilboa side, due to the 30 point Edgerton lead the second half began with a running clock.
Pandora’s misfortune continued in the third quarter. After two incompletions, on third down Showalter recorded his second sack of the contest. Facing a fourth and very long, the Rockets had no viable option but to punt once again.
With the game well in hand, Edgerton Coach Ben Wilhelm made the wise decision to leave Flegal on the sidelines the remainder of the game. Jaron Cape was back again at quarterback as the first drive for the Bulldogs commenced at their 45 yard line. The backup did what was necessary, hand the ball off to the more than capable Edgerton running backs.
Two runs by Prince, one by Roth, then two more by Prince resulted in more of the same for the Bulldogs. The final carry by Prince saw him run 13 yards as he high stepped into the end zone. For the sixth consecutive possession, Edgerton crossed the goal line. Although Prince’s two point attempt was thwarted, the Bulldog lead just became more formidable as the scoreboard showed 44-8.
As if things weren’t bad enough for the Rockets, they fumbled the kickoff and the miscue was recovered by Edgerton’s Arryn Pahl. However, in what must have been a play to prepare if there was any possible absence next week by Flegal, Jaron Cape dropped back to pass.
The attempt was underthrown and subsequently picked off by Pandora. The Rockets wasted no time however returning the favor as on the first play from scrimmage Breece’s attempt fell into the arms of Braydon Cape.
For the seventh, and final time of the contest, the Bulldogs found pay dirt. Prince, Braydon Cape, and Roth all toted the pigskin in the 5 play drive. This time Roth added the touchdown as he lined up in the backfield, took a direct snap, and scampered 12 yards. Jaron Cape posted the final points of the night with his 2 point run to give Edgerton the victory 52-8.
For the second straight week Edgerton dominated a team that on paper looked to be a formidable opponent. Once again, the Bulldogs controlled the game on both sides of the ball. Offensively Edgerton gained a total of 396 yards against a defense which was allowing only 135 yards per game.
The Bulldog defense was equally as impressive. Pandora came into the contest averaging 381 yards a contest. The “Dawgs” allowed only a mere 125 total yards, less than 1/3 of the Rockets average, to go along with three quarterback sacks, an interception, and fumble recovery!
A possibly even more glaring statistic of the game was the final score. In their first 11 contests P-G had surrendered just 70 points total and had been averaging 42 points per contest themselves.
To no one’s surprise, Hunter Prince was the workhorse offensively. The record setting junior had 22 carries for 99 hard earned yards, to go along with 4 touchdowns. Prince has now amassed an incredible 2090 rushing yards on the year. With the Pandora defense obviously keying on Prince, Greg Roth took full advantage.
The senior led the Bulldogs with 140 yards in just 8 attempts. Prior to his injury, Flegal had 5 carries for 22 yards, 1 touchdown and three two-point conversions. Braydon Cape added 4 carries for 16 yards, and sophomore Craig Blue added 3 attempts for 9 yards.
Flegal also had a nice first half through the air. He had 6 completions in 7 attempts for 110 yards. Jaron Cape had three attempts and one interception in his time at quarterback. Braydon Cape, Showalter, and Roth had two catches each. Respectively the trio had 65, 29, and 16 yards.
Next up for the 12-0, and second seeded Edgerton will be the McComb Panthers. The Panthers, who enter the contest with an 11-1 record (their only loss was a 19-14 setback against Pandora-Gilboa in week 7) are the sixth seeded team in the final Associated Press Poll and were tied for the 4th seed in Region 26. McComb advanced to the Regional Final by downing Leipsic 24-14.
For the third week in a row, the Bulldogs face a team who statistically appear very similar to themselves. Edgerton averages 52 points per game and McComb 42.8. Defensively the Bulldogs give up just 6.2 points per contest, with 5 shut outs, while the Panthers allow 12.9 ppg, but no shut outs. Both teams prefer to run the ball offensively, but are more than capable of going to the air if necessary.
Edgerton has to be pleased with the game location as the Bulldogs return to Defiance High School’s Fred Brown Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 pm on Saturday, November 17, with a trip to the State Semi-finals at stake.
Source: The Village Reporter