Aidan Pratt of Van Wert runs past an Ottawa-Glandorf defender on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
Aidan Pratt of Van Wert runs past an Ottawa-Glandorf defender on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)

OTTAWA — Ottawa-Glandorf’s defense stifled Van Wert in the first half on Friday night. At the break, the Cougars decided to go straight at the Titan defense by using the run to set up the pass, and Van Wert found the endzone three times in the second half to knock off O-G 31-16 at Titan Stadium.

The win moved the Cougars to 4-1 in the WBL and 5-1 overall, while O-G slipped to 1-4 in the WBL and 1-5 overall.

Van Wert scored on back-to-back possessions at the end of the opening quarter for a 10-0 lead. The second quarter saw the Cougars only sustain one drive that resulted in a missed field goal as the Titans rallied to tie the game at 10-10 on a field goal to end the half.

After Van Wert ran just four plays on their first drive of the second half, they scored on three straight possessions to take control of the game.

“We knew they (OG) would be good defensively,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “They really shut us down and did a nice job the first half moving guys around and causing some confusion for our guys. We were very hesitant. We came out the second half and just needed to come straight forward, just stop moving around. We were able to get our run game going much better the second half.”

Van Wert finished the game with 499 yards of offense as they threw for 305 yards and rushed for 194 yards. In both of their long scoring drives of the second half, the Cougars mixed the run and pass to drive for scores.

On their second possession of the third quarter, the Cougars drove 75 yards in eight plays as Brylen Parker scored on an 11-yard run. Van Wert was balanced offensively in the drive with four run and four pass plays.

Ottawa-Glandorf answered right back driving 74 yards in six plays as sophomore quarterback Peyton Kuhlman hit Carter Duling with a pass that covered 51 yards for a touchdown with 2:34 left in the quarter. The Cougars blocked the extra point leaving them with a one point lead.

It didn’t take long for Van Wert to take the wind out of the Titans sails after they went on to score in two plays on their next possession.

After a six yard run by Aidan Pratt on first down, Nate Phillips was able to get behind the Titan defense where Pratt found him for a 70-yard touchdown reception. With the extra point, the Cougars had a 24-16 lead with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

“That’s what we needed,” Recker said. “If we can get the run game going, it's going to open things up in the secondary and that's when we were trying to get our tempo game going. We had the big play where we caught them trying to get lined up. When we can get that tempo going it causes confusion for the defense.”

“We battled throughout the night and kept it within one score. Going into the fourth quarter you couldn’t ask for much more,” Titan head coach Ken Schriner said. “Defensively we played well to shut down a team that’s been scoring 45 points a game. I’m proud of our kids, proud of the effort, but we don’t believe in moral victories, we have to keep improving.”

After the Cougar score, the Titans were driving again before Van Wert halted the drive by forcing a punt. That was the case on the Titans next two drives as they picked up a first down before the Cougar defense found a way to shut them down.

“Our defense played well most of the night, we just gave up two big pass plays for touchdowns,” Recker said. “I was really happy with our defensive effort overall. We just have to continue to attack and not give up big plays.”

“Our offense still struggles at times,” Schriner said. “We show signs, at times, where we have a nice drive, but when need to grind out four or five yards or move the chains on third down we struggle with that. We are going to keep working on that to see how we can get better.”

Van Wert made it a two score game with 8:29 left when Conner Campbell caught a 16-yard pass from Pratt from Pratt that ended in six.

Originally, Van Wert took a 7-0 lead with 5:20 left in the opening quarter when Pratt found Maddix Crutchfield with a pass that covered 42 yards for a score. With 19 seconds left in the first quarter Damon McCracken kicked a 23 yard field goal to give the Cougars a 10-0 lead.

Ottawa-Glandorf pulled within 10-7 at 9:22 left in the half when Kuhlman hit Cy Rump down the middle of the field with a pass. Rump did the rest, out-running the Cougar defense to the endzone for a 68-yard scoring play. This was a one play drive for the Titans.

Midway through the second quarter, McCracken attempted a 33 yard field goal that missed.

Late in the second quarter, the Cougars were backed up to their own 14 after a penalty. On the next play they fumbled the ball with the Titans recovering at the Van Wert 24.

Although they were backed up to the 40 after a holding call, they used a 15-yard pass to Rump and a six yard run by Rump to get themselves into field goal range. With two seconds left in the quarter, Tyler Hohenbrink came on to kick a 36 yard field goal to tie the game going into halftime.

Pratt was 19-of-30 passing for Van Wert for 305 yards as Phillips caught six passes for 104 yards. Pratt rushed for 117 yards on 16 carries and Parker rushed for 77 yards on 18 carries.

Next week is Van Wert's homecoming game against Shawnee. The Indians are now 1-5 on the season after a 41-14 loss to St. Marys on Friday night.