Crestview junior Jake Lippi was able to find rare open running space in this first half carry versus Ada in the Division VI regional semi-final on Friday night. The Bulldogs advanced with a 35-0 win. (Times Bulletin/John Parent)
By Sean LaFontaine
Times Bulletin Correspondent
WAPAKONETA- Very few expected the Crestview Knights to lay a 63-12 beating on the Ada Bulldogs when the two schools met on the football field in Convoy back in week seven. A win, perhaps, but certainly not as one-sided as that one became.
Given the outcome of the first game, even fewer would have expected the Bulldogs to pitch a 35-0 shutout of the Knights when the schools battled in Division VI regional semi-final action at Harmon Field in Wapak on Friday night.
But that's just what happened.
Both teams showed some nerves early and exchanged three-and-outs before the Bulldogs finally put some points on the board.
The Bulldogs started the drive with great field position on the Crestview 44-yard line. A third down completion from Matt Wilcox to Austin Dumbaugh kept the Ada drive alive. On the next play, Wilcox rushed for an 18-yard gain down the Knights 10-yard line.
Then, on third-and-goal, Wilcox scrambled and found Hunter Waller in the back of the end zone for the first score of the game. Waller hit to extra point to make the score 7-0.
After the Knights had another three-and-out, Ada took advantage. The Bulldogs went on a 64-yard touchdown drive to expand their lead. The score came on another touchdown pass from Wilcox to Waller, this time from 22 yards away. The extra point made the score 14-0 late in the first quarter.
It appeared as though the Knights found their groove on their next possession. Crestview drove down deep into Ada territory, thanks in large part to a 44-yard run by junior fullback Jake Lippi. The Knights had a first down from the Ada 15-yard line, but couldn't take advantage. Crestview tried a run up-the-middle on fourth down, but came up short and turned it over on downs.Crestview forced an Ada punt and gained good field position on their next possession. Crestview again drove down the field into Ada territory. They big play this time came on a pass from Preston Zaleski to Isaiah Simerman for a 28-yard gain.
After a holding penalty set Crestview back, a 19-yard pass from Zaleski to Simerman gave the Knights a fourth and one on the Ada eight-yard line. Crestview went for it and again came up short, giving Ada the ball back.
Two trips inside the Ada 10 yard line for Crestview in the first half added up to zero points. It was certainly a bad omen for the Knights, who struggled to establish a running attack all night against an aggressive Ada defensive front.
Ada took a 14-0 lead into the locker room, and only expanded on it in the second half.
Late in the third quarter, with the game still undecided, Zaleski's pitch was knocked down and recovered by the Ada defender, resulting in a turnover and giving the Bulldogs outstanding field position just outside of the red zone.
The Bulldogs took advantage of the short field and scored just three plays later. A one-yard touchdown run by standout sophomore Blake Ansley put Ada up 21-0 with 2:38 left to play in the third.
Though Ada scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on their way to a 35-0 victory over Crestview, it was that sequence in the third quarter that effectively sealed the game for the Bulldogs.
After the game, a disappointed Jared Owens commented on the difference in the game.
"I think it was (Ada's) physical play. They ratcheted up the intensity and we just couldn't match it. It wasn't really a matter of style, it was just a matter of playing physical football. They did and we didn't."
Even though the ending wasn't want the Knights had imagined, Owens talked about what he said to his team after the game.
"I told the them I couldn't be any more proud of a group of young men and they stamp they put on our program. The fact that we were that upset in how it ended and how we wanted more shows how invested they were in our program and that's something that will last for years to come."
Owens also spoke about his group of seniors who played their final game in a Crestview uniform.
"The seniors were maybe an over-achieving group, but that's because they a gritty and just worked their tails off and the rest of the guys, too. One to 46, I'm proud of them."
Crestview finished with a 9-3 record overall. They were Northwest Conference tri-champions and won their first-ever playoff game in program history. A loss in week 12, no matter the score, is nothing to be ashamed of. These Knights did something no team in school history had done before.