During its run as one of the state’s top programs, Coldwater has
made a living off of mastering the big play. Friday, that same scenario
did in the Cavaliers. Fittingly – in a meeting of state No. 1s and MAC giants – the outcome wasn’t decided until the final 10
seconds as host Delphos St. John’s slipped by Coldwater, 27-20, at Stadium Park.
DELPHOS – During its run as one of the state’s top programs, Coldwater has made a living off of mastering the big play. Friday, that same scenario did in the Cavaliers.
Fittingly – in a meeting of state No. 1s and Midwest Athletic Conference goliaths – the outcome wasn’t decided until the final 10 seconds as Delphos St. John’s capitalized on a halfback pass to will its way past Coldwater, 27-20, at Stadium Park in Delphos.
The Blue Jays, 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in Division VI, erased any thoughts of overtime before a standing room only crowd (that produced a $4,250 winning 50/50 pot) when junior running back Jordan Leininger and sophomore Tanner Calvelage connected on a 28-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds. The win snapped DSJ’s eight-game losing streak against Coldwater, which entered the game 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in D-V. The Cavs are now 7-1.
The Blue Jays own five D-VI state titles – including last year’s championship – but this victory rivals any that have occurred on Ohio’s biggest stage.
“This has got to be one of the bigger (wins) around here in the 11 years since I’ve been here,” DSJ head coach Todd Schulte said. “You know the MAC title has run through Coldwater and for us to be able to come in here and put ourselves in the driver’s seat makes us happy.”
Said Leininger: “That game right there was bigger to me personally than the state championship last year because we haven’t won a MAC championship forever.”
Added Wes Ulm: “This was huge. This is the biggest game I’ve ever played in. Don’t get me wrong – the state game is huge and I love playing there – but this atmosphere felt like a college game. There were so many people, it was so loud…I just loved it.”
Ulm and Leininger are two reasons why DSJ is two wins away from its first conference title since 2000.
Ulm’s inspired first half led the Blue Jays to a 20-13 halftime lead. The senior quarterback and three-year starter, threw two first half touchdowns – one each to Leininger and Tyler Bergfeld – and ran for another. He also caught a two-point conversion pass, which was nullified by a penalty, and threw for another on the ensuing snap.
Leininger gashed and smashed his way through a Coldwater defense, which just a week ago allowed one-yard rushing against St. Henry. On the final drive alone, Leininger ran for 27 yards on four carries to help set up his dramatics.
“A lot of times when those guys (Ulm and Leininger) make plays – they’re making plays,” Schulte said. “You can draw it all up however you want but these guys are just ball players. They make plays. That’s why they touch the ball all the time.”
Coldwater was led by senior quarterback Keith Wenning who gutted out a steady performance mired somewhat by two interceptions. The Cavs also lost a fumble.
Wenning threw two touchdowns – one each to Ross Wermert and Reese Klenke – and his 18-yard touchdown run in the third quarter tied the game.
Wenning led the Cavs on what appeared to be a would-be game-winning drive with under six minutes left, but the DSJ defense stiffened at its own 35-yardline and junior linebacker Chris Pohlman deflected Wenning’s fourth down throw.
DSJ took over with 1:57 left and marched 65 yards for the win.
On third-and-five from the Coldwater 28 with 19 seconds left, Schulte pulled the rabbit from the hat.
“Coming down the stretch we were running our toss play so much,” Schulte said. “We were just grabbing in the bag to give ourselves at least a chance for a field goal. That was just a great throw and catch and run.”
“It was supposed to be designed to go to the tight end and hopefully the safety bites,” Leininger said. “The safety didn’t bite, so I was supposed to run it but I rolled out to the right and Tanner was just sitting there. I decided to throw it to him and luckily he caught it and put it in.”
Said Ulm: “When coach called it in I knew it was going to work. It was a great play call. Jordan’s our back-up quarterback and he’s got a cannon on him. I had faith in him and it worked out perfect.”
Losing streak over.
Title drought over?
“It was like a heavyweight fight.” Schulte said. “And we got the last shot in.
“When you have two teams like that sometimes it comes down to a big play at the end. Tonight our kids were able to make that play.”