LIMA — Van Wert’s fine football season came to an end with a 55-20 loss to Western Buckeye League foe St. Marys Memorial in the Division IV, Region 14 semifinals at Spartan Stadium in Lima on Saturday.
The Roughriders (11-1) led 14-6 after the first quarter, then outscored the Cougars 21-0 in the second quarter for a commanding 35-6 advantage.
“St. Marys is a very good team and we didn’t play our best tonight,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said.
Nate Place finds himself surrounded by Roughrider tacklers during Saturday’s playoff game at Lima. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent
St. Marys wasted no time getting on the board. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Roughriders drove 66 yards in 10 plays and scored on Sean Perry’s 15 yard touchdown run. It was the first of Perry’s four rushing touchdowns, and Gabe Vandever added the first of seven PATs for a 7-0 lead at the 8:41 mark.
The two teams traded punts, then a Van Wert fumble gave St. Marys the ball at the Cougar 18 yard line. The Roughriders scored three plays later on a two yard run by Braeden Dunlap.
Nate Place put Van Wert on the board with a 17 yard touchdown run with 2:23 left in the quarter, but the PAT was blocked, leaving the Cougars down 14-6.
The score remained that way until the Roughriders scored three times in the final four minutes of the second quarter. Sean Perry’s second touchdown came from five yards out and extended the lead to 21-6 with 4:11 left in the period. 15 seconds later, Carter Ballweg intercepted Place’s pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Dunlap scored from the one with 12 seconds left to give St. Marys a 35-6 halftime lead.
Place opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 32 yard touchdown pass to Owen Treece and TJ Reynolds scored a two point conversion to make it 35-14, but the Roughriders answered with two scores by Perry – a 16 yard run and a 34 yard run to make it 49-14. Perry finished the game with 24 carries and 233 yards, and the Roughriders rolled to 390 yards rushing as a team. Perry also had the only catch of the game for St. Marys, for 50 yards.
Place led the Cougars on an eight play, 65 yard drive and scored on a two yard run with 8:55 left to make it 49-20, but Ty Howell scored the final touchdown of the game on a 30 yard run with 6:51 left.
In his final game, Place had 50 yards rushing on 18 carries and completed 18 of 32 passes for 239 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tanner Barnhart had five receptions for 47 yards and Drew Bagley had five catches for 37 yards. Treece had three receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Jake Hilleary had 11 carries for 58 yards for the Cougars, who finished the season 9-3.
“I’m really proud of this team, especially the seniors for what they were able to accomplish this season,” Recker said. “Our players can stand tall and be proud of their accomplishments this year despite a disappointing last game.”
St. Marys 14 21 14 6 – 55
Van Wert 6 0 8 6 – 20
8:41 1st qtr: Sean Perry 15 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
4:45 1st qtr: Braeden Dunlap 2 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
2:23 1st qtr: Nate Place 17 yard run (kick blocked)
4:11 2nd qtr: Sean Perry 5 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
3:56 2nd qtr: Carter Ballweg 35 yard interception return (Gabe Vandever kick)
0:12 2nd qtr: Braeden Dunlap 1 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
11:17 3rd qtr: Nate Place 32 yard pass to Owen Treece (TJ Reynolds run)
5:21 3rd qtr: Sean Perry 16 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
1:56 3rd qtr: Sean Perry 34 yard run (Gabe Vandever kick)
8:55 4th qtr: Nate Place 2 yard run (kick failed)
6:51 4th qtr: Ty Howell 30 yard run (two point conversion failed)