Van Wert's Nate Place (10) makes a touchdown saving tackle after a long gain by Ottawa-Glandorf's Dylan Tippie on a pass play in the third quarter. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)
Van Wert's Nate Place (10) makes a touchdown saving tackle after a long gain by Ottawa-Glandorf's Dylan Tippie on a pass play in the third quarter. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)
OTTAWA — Van Wert seemingly had their Western Buckeye League game with Ottawa-Glandorf under control up 16 points in the fourth quarter.

After the Titans rallied to tie the game, the Cougars had to find themselves in overtime. Van Wert was able to do that as they scored on their possession and then came up with a defensive stand to claim an exciting 40-34 win over O-G at Titan Stadium.

Both teams are 1-2 in the WBL and 2-2 overall.

“Things didn’t go our way, we had a lot of chances, a lot of opportunities. We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “For our guys to battle through that and give up the lead, I told them I’ve never been as proud of them, because we haven’t done that. Since I’ve been here we haven’t been able to lose a lead and keep our composure, then make enough plays to get the win. I’m very proud of those guys.”

Van Wert appeared to be in charge with 7:38 left to play as they took a 34-18 lead on a three yard run by Jake Hilleary and the point after touchdown. Back came the Titans.

After Shawn Beverly returned the kickoff to the O-G 45, the Titans engineered a 10 play, 55 yard scoring drive that was capped by a three yard pass to a wide open Jarrod Beach in the middle of the endzone. Caleb Kuhlman then caught a two-point conversion pass from Leopold making it an eight point game with 5:28 left.

Following the score, O-G kicked off to the Cougars to see if their defense could get a stop. The Cougars were hoping to chew up yardage with their running game behind an offensive line that had done a good job all night. A big run by Nate Place took the ball deep inside O-G territory three plays into the drive. However, the run was called back because of a penalty and the Titan defense stepped up and forced a punt.

“Our line was really playing well tonight and we felt we could get that clock run out, but we just couldn’t get it,” Recker said.

On the punt, Beach collected the ball at the O-G 30 and made a pair of Van Wert defenders miss tackles. Beach then followed his blockers down field and cut back inside to avoid Cougar punter Drew Bagley on his way to the endzone. Forced to go for two, Leopold dropped back to pass, was flushed out of the pocket by the Van Wert defense and took off running. Leopold just got the ball to the pylon to tie the game at 34-34 with 1:57 left.

“He’s (Beach) been solid all year with what he does,” O-G head coach Ken Schriner said of the punt return. “It’s a credit to him at that point in the game because everybody is tired. He still had enough gas to make the play we needed and give us a little bit of hope.”

Ottawa-Glandorf got another big break two plays later when Clayton Recker intercepted a deflected pass and returned it to the Van Wert 25. After a six yard gain on first down, Van Wert’s Owen Treece saved the day for the Cougars as he intercepted a Leopold pass.

“You can’t make that decision in that situation,” Schriner said. “We should have thrown it out of the back of the endzone and we have a chance to line up for a field goal if we want.”

“Owen Treece did a good job coming up with that interception,” Recker said. “Our linebacker, Parker Conrad, did a good job of getting under his receiver and they had to put a little more air under the ball and gave us enough time to get to it and Owen made a great play.”

Van Wert went on offense first in overtime and used four running plays to reach the endzone as Hilleary, 30 carries, 177 yards in the game, scored on a two yard run. Hilleary carried the ball all four times on the drive. However, the Cougars missed the extra point giving them a six point lead.

“That’s what been working for us,” Recker said. “If we get in the ‘red zone’, we feel pretty good about running the ball and getting it in, because we have four plays to get 10 yards. Jake Hilleary had a really nice night and our offensive line did a good job of finding some holes for him.”

Van Wert then went on defense and nearly ended the game on the first place as Leopold fumbled the ball trying to get around the right side. The game came down to a fourth down play as Leopold had a receiver open over the middle, but the receiver was unable to come up a diving catch of a low throw to end the game.

Van Wert rushed for 275 yards in the contest as Place added 94 yards on 18 carries, including a 74 yard scoring run after O-G took the lead to start the third quarter. Place was 17-of-25 passing with three touchdowns, two to Tanner Barnhart in the second quarter. Drew Bagley caught 10 passes in the game for 60 yards.

The Cougar defense shut down the Titans rushing attack holding them to 121 yards, led by Leopold with 68 yards on 20 carries. Leopold was 16-of-31 passing for 230 yards and three scores as Beach caught four passes for 91 yards and Dylan Tippie caught six passes for 90 yards.

* * *

Van Wert 0 14 13 7 6 - 40

Ottawa-Glandorf 0 11 7 16 0 - 34

VW - Barnhart 36 pass from Place (Bagler pass from Place)

OG - Rosengarten 32 field goal

VW - Barnhart six pass from Place (pass failed)

OG - Beach 20 pass from Leopold (Beach pass from Leopold)

OG - Scarberry 13 pass from Leopold (Rosengarten kick)

VW - Place 74 run (pass failed)

VW - Bagley three pass from Place (Reynolds kick)

VW - Hilleary three run (Reynolds kick)

OG - Beach three pass from Leopold (Kuhlman pass from Leopold)

OG - Beach 70 punt return (Leopold run)

VW - Hilleary two run (kick failed)