Preston Zaleski drops back to pass in Crestview's victory over Spencerville on Friday night. (Times Bulletin/Jim Metcalfe)
By Jim Metcalfe
SPENCERVILLE - Sometimes, depending on your point of view, halftime can be a gift or a curse.
For Spencerville's gridiron crew Friday night, it was a curse. For Crestview, it came at just the right time.
The Knights overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to thoroughly dominate the second half and down the Bearcats 50-34 in Northwest Conference gridiron action at Charles Memorial Stadium.
The Knights (6-2, 5-1 NWC), trailing 28-15 to start the second half, started at their 28 and scored a play later, including an offsides penalty on the Bearcats (4-4, 3-3). At the 41, Malcolm Oliver took a sweep over left end, broke through tacklers at midfield and scored on a 59-yard touchdown run. Kameron Grubaugh tacked on the extra point to make it 28-22 with just 24 seconds off the second-half clock.
The Knights got the ball back quickly. On the third play of the Spencerville drive, quarterback Mason Nourse had his quick pass to the tight end tipped and Jordan Roop made a diving interception at the Bearcat 37. It took six plays to take the lead for good. On fourth-and-goal at the two, Preston Zaleski snuck inside right guard for the six. Grubaugh made it 29-28 with 8:17 left in the third period.
The Bearcats, who had run for 178 yards the first half but added only 21 the second, had a three-and-out and the Knights had all the momentum, starting at the Spencerville 44. Four plays later at the 13, Oliver took a handoff inside right guard and showed great patience in and out of traffic on his way to the end zone. Grubaugh made it 36-28 with 4:49 left in the third.
Spencerville's Anthony Schuh took back the kickoff 62 yards to the Crestview 25 and the Bearcats made it pay off in five plays. At the eight, Schuh took a pitch around left end and showed patience to the corner and paydirt. The conversion pass failed as Crestview's lead was reduced to 36-34 with 2:25 to go in the third.
Crestview started its next drive at the 13 and took 6:40 off the clock - before fumbling at the Bearcat eight and Colton Miller recovering.However, a play later, Spencerville repaid the favor as Isaiah Simerman grabbed an aerial from a Spencerville receiver and ran it back 20 yards to the house. Grubaugh made it 43-34 with 6:58 to go.
The Bearcats, now trying to play catch-up, turned the ball over on downs in six plays, leaving Crestview in business at the Spencerville 36.
At the 25, Zaleski, in the gun for the only time the second half, swept left end, cut back to the middle and split the defense to the end zone with 2:04 remaining. Grubaugh tacked on the final point for the 16-point spread.
The Bearcats got out of the gates quickly, keyed by a 21-yard kickoff return by Schuh to start the offense at the 28. Five plays hence at the Crestview 40, Schuh swept the right side, bulled through tacklers at the 30 and rumbled to the end zone. Logan Vandemark made it 7-0 with 9:26 showing in the first period.
After nearly recovering the kickoff deep in Crestview territory, the Bearcats did recover a fumble - Trevor McMichael doing the honors - at the Knight five. Schuh swept right end from there, cut off tackle and powered to paydirt. Vandemark made it 14-0 with 7:42 left in the stanza.
Crestview replied with a four-play, 80-yarder. At the 47, Zaleski, was pressured into taking off right tackle, bashed through tacklers at midfield, cut across the grain and found the left sideline and the end zone. He found Jordan Miller for the two-pointer and a 14-8 deficit with 5:38 showing in the opener.
Spencerville ran off an 11-play drive from the 20 to the Crestview 31, where the drive ended a yard shot on fourth-and-three.
Their next series - an 11-play, 61-yarder - ended up in the end zone. At the Crestview one, Colton Miller bulled inside left guard for the tally. Vandemark made it 21-8 with 8:07 left in the half.
Crestview came back when, at the Bearcat four, Zaleski faked the fullback inside left guard and followed him to the end zone. Grubaugh made it 21-15 with 6:04 showing in the half.
The Bearcats finished the half well with a nine-play, 65-yard drive. At the Crestview five, on fourth-and-four, Nourse found Colton Miller in the left flat and the senior turned up to the end zone with 2:05 left in the half. Vandemark made it 28-15 at the half.
"We kind of caught them off guard to open the game. We played very well the first half," Spencerville head coach John Zerbe explained. "The second half, they really didn't change anything; they just started to push us around up front. They are a good team and they owned the line of scrimmage."
Crestview coach Jared Owens agreed with that assessment.
"It came down to better execution. We challenged our kids at halftime and they responded," Owens added. "Our guys up front adjusted to what they were doing and then played more physical. I couldn't be any prouder of a group of young men in how they responded."
Spencerville hosts Vermillion Friday, while Crestview hosts Columbus Grove.
CRESTVIEW 50, SPENCERVILLE 34
Crestview 8 7 21 14 - 50
Spencerville 14 14 6 0 - 34
SV - Anthony Schuh 40 run (Logan Vandemark kick), 9:06
SV - Schuh 4 run (Vandemark kick), 7:42
CV - Preston Zaleski 53 run (Jordan Miller pass from Zaleski), 5:38
SV - Colton Miller 1 run (Vandemark kick), 8:07
CV - Zaleski 4 run (Kameron Grubaugh kick), 6:04
SV - Miller 4 pass from Mason Nourse (Vandemark kick), 2:05
CV - Malcolm Oliver 59 run (Grubaugh kick), 11:36
CV - Zaleski 2 run (Grubaugh kick), 8:17
CV - Oliver 13 run (Grubaugh kick), 4:49
SV - Schuh 8 run (pass failed), 2:25
CV - Isaiah Simerman 20 interception return (Grubaugh kick), 6:58
CV - Zaleski 25 run (Grubaugh kick), 2:04
First Downs 21 15
Total Yards 408 313
Rushes-Yards 45-336 49-199
Passing Yards 72 114
Comps.-Atts. 5-10 8-14
Intercepted by 2 0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 1-15 2-20
Punts-Aver. 2-38 1-30
RUSHING: Malcolm Oliver 17-136, Preston Zaleski 17-103, Jake Lippi 5-56, Justin Overmyer 6-41.
PASSING: Zaleski 5-10-72-0-0.
RECEIVING: Oliver 2-32, Isaiah Simerman 1-20, Overmyer 1-12, Jordan Miller 1-8.
RUSHING: Anthony Schuh 23-123, Hunter Hardesty 11-36, Colton Miller 13-24, Mason Nourse 2-16.
PASSING: Nourse 8-14-114-2-1.
RECEIVING: C. Miller 4-54, Tyler Core 3-53, Zach Goecke 1-6.