Ron Dunn/Times Bulletin
Delphos Jefferson’s Andrew Wiltsie (12) tries to elude Crestview defenders, including Tyler Torrey (2) during a football game on Friday, Oct. 2, in Delphos.
Ron Dunn/Times Bulletin Delphos Jefferson’s Andrew Wiltsie (12) tries to elude Crestview defenders, including Tyler Torrey (2) during a football game on Friday, Oct. 2, in Delphos.
BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin News Writer

sports@timesbulletin.com

DELPHOS - Homecoming was a happy one for Delphos Jefferson as the Wildcats used a strong ground game and stingy defense to blank visiting Crestview 21-0 at Dephos Stadium Park.

Jefferson took control from the outset, taking the opening kick and marching down the field, controlling the ball with runs by junior running back Mitchell Antalis and sophomore Curtis Miller. After two big stops by the Crestview defense, senior signal caller Jordan Jettinghoff found Andrew Wiltsie for a nine-yard connection to give the Jeffcats a fourth-and-three at the Crestview 8. After being pushed back five yards by an illegal motion penalty, the Delphos squad drew first blood as Jettinghoff found Ryan Ebbeskotte for a score. The point-after made the score 7-0 for the home team.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Knight's Matt Holden set Crestview up with good field position, returning the ball across midfield to the Jefferson 47. The Knights kept the ball on the ground with running backs Holden and Steven Pierce getting the ball down to the Wildcat 23. Then a pass toward receiver Noah Gebert was deflected and ended up in the hands of Jefferson's Logan Bonifas, shutting down the Crestview drive.

After a Delphos three-and-out, Crestview went back to work at the Jefferson 40. Quarterback Cody Hagaman hit senior wideout Drew Nofer for a quick five, followed by short runs by Holden. Knight Head Coach Jason Cross opted to go for it on fourth-and-two, but Hagaman's pass intended for Nofer fell incomplete.

Jefferson then took over at its own 32 and went to the air attack. Three passes from Jettinghoff to senior receiver Craig Carter moved the ball to the Knight 23 as the first quarter ended. Three plays into the second stanza, Jettinghoff found Carter again on a critical fourth down play to give Delphos a first-and-goal at the Crestview 10.

On the next play Jettinghoff hit Ebbeskotte again near the end zone. As he was being wrapped up, the senior receiver managed to reach out with the football and break the plane of the goal line to give the Wildcats a touchdown. With the PAT, Jefferson took a 14-0 lead early in the second period.

After the game, Cross remarked, "On the defensive side of the ball, we just gave up a couple of big plays. I didn't think we played terrible, to be honest with you. I thought, again, they were grinding it out on us and got a couple of big plays."

Crestview again got good field position after a Holden kickoff return, setting up shop at the Jefferson 34. But two short gains and an incomplete pass gave the the Knights a critical fourth down at the Jeff 29, but the snap was not handled cleanly and Hagaman was forced to fall on the football, giving it back to Jefferson.

One play later, the Knights had the ball back after Nofer ran under a long Jettinghoff pass and came up with the interception. However, Crestview could not take advantage of the turnover, even after a roughing the passing penalty gave the Red, White and Blue a new set of downs.

With just over five minutes left in the half, the Wildcats started another drive hoping to put up another score. A series of short passes and a 20-yard connection to Antalis put Jefferson in position at the Knight 24. Then the Crestview defense stiffened with two straight sacks. A Jettinghouse scramble for 15 yards put the ball back at the Knight 24, but Josh Staten forced Jettinghoff to get rid of the ball quickly on fourth down and the pigskin fell incomplete with less than two minutes left in the half.

Crestview ran out the clock and went to the locker room behind Jefferson 14-0.

"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," admitted Cross. "You make little mistakes, you can't have that when you get toward the red zone. You know, a hold or a slip or something like that. You've got to be able to execute and make the plays. They made plays. We needed to make plays."

The second half began with a quick three-and-out from Crestview before Jefferson started another scoring drive. The big play for the Wildcats came as Antalis took a pitch and ran a sweep around the right side for 38 yards deep into Knight territory. Six plays later, Jettinghoff kept the ball himself, reaching over the top of the line on fourth-and-goal to score. The conversion from the leg of Jettinghoff proved to be the final points of the game, giving Delphos Jefferson a 21-0 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Knights did not give up though. After beginning the game in the two-running back pro set, Crestview returned to the four-wideout formation they used earlier in the seaon. However, another interception by Bonifas and two picks from Ebbeskotte stopped any threat of the Knights denting the scoreboard on the evening.

Cross said, "We played four quarters of football. The kids played hard for 48 minutes, and we'll have to look at tape to see how we did execution-wise up front. It's been an uphill battle. We've got to continue to fight and game-plan and do the best we can to come out next week and play a solid game of football."

Antalis rushed for an unofficial 66 yards on the night. Jettinghoff threw for 148 yards, completing 14 of 21 passes on the night.

For Crestview, Holden picked up 46 yards on the ground. Tyler Torrey caught two passes for 17 yard, Nofer hauled in a pair for 10 yards, and Gebert collected three catches for 13 yards. Knight quarterbacks were picked off four times on the evening.

With the win, Jefferson moves to 5-1 on the year. They will travel to face Columbus Grove next week.

The Knights slip to 2-4 for the season with a Homecoming matchup with high-flying Ada on the schedule for next Friday in Convoy.