Anna passed its first of three successive, grueling examinations last Friday
by defeating Coldwater for the first time ever 38-28 at a jam-packed
Booster Stadium. Now the Rockets and coach Bryan Rioch get to head to Delphos St. John’s this weekend and welcome Marion Local in Week 5…talk about punishing.
Anna passed its first of three successive, grueling examinations last Friday by defeating Coldwater for the first time ever 38-28 at a jam-packed Booster Stadium.
Heading into his fifth season of MAC play last, Anna coach Bryan Rioch’s record stood at 24-10. However, five of those losses were to nemesis Coldwater, who has feasted on the Rockets the past four years, outscoring them 150-61.
Rioch mused, “I will celebrate this win about 2 1/2 minutes and then start worrying about Delphos St. John’s.”
In previous meetings, the Cavaliers busted out to insurmountable leads. Not this night. The Rockets were amped and exploded to a 21-7 first quarter advantage and never looked back.
The opening kickoff started with razzle as Dan Stewart handed off to Cole Ferguson on a reverse and the speedster took it 48 yards. But it was all for naught when Dexter Bensman fumbled on the second play.
Coldwater started on Anna’s 47-yard-line and the Anna faithful were probably thinking, “here we go again”. Not this night.
The Cavs advanced it to the 33-yard-line where they faced a 4th down and 5. QB Austin Bruns was sacked by Maverick Long and Cody Bensman for a -6 yard loss. End of threat.
The Rockets refueled on their own 39-yard-line. QB Jay Meyer connected on a 54-yard pump and go route to TE Alex Fogt to set up their first score. Two plays later, Gage Beasecker plunged into the end zone from three yards out.
Coldwater went four and out on its second possession. Three Anna plays later, Caleb Siefring intercepted Meyer’s pass and returned it 25 yards to the Anna six. The Cavaliers responded with a three-yard TD pass from Bruns to WR Reese Klenke to knot it at 7-7 with 5:36 left in the quarter.
The Anna faithful were probably thinking, “here we go again”. Not this night.
The Rockets retaliated in a rush, covering 80 yards in five plays in 1:54. Dexter Bensman capped it with a 64-yard TD romp that covered 120 yards. He took the pitch on an end sweep and then cut it back against the grain before heading upfield. Bensman has eight TDs on the season.
Anna wasn’t finished. Ferguson picked off a Bruns’ pass and returned it 11 yards, setting up the third score of the quarter. The next play, Beasecker sprinted downhill on a 68-yard TD romp. And the romp was on.
Coldwater fumbled on its first possession of the second quarter and Dustin Noffsinger pounced on it. Anna didn’t waste any time, scoring six plays later on a two-yard TD blast by Dan Stewart to pad the lead 28-7.
Two more Coldwater possessions were halted by Anna interceptions from Caleb Maurer and Dan Stewart.
The Cavaliers sliced the lead 28-14 with 1:14 until intermission. Coldwater’s gunslinger drove his team 51 yards in nine plays. He completed four passes for 35 yards.
It was a half that resembled NASCAR with plenty of mental wrecks. And it was a half that bordered helter skelter and organized chaos. In all, there were 18 possession changes. Both teams were guilty of six turnovers combined, four by Coldwater and two by Anna. In addition, Anna was flagged five times for 60 yards. The bright side, Anna produced big plays of 54, 64, and 68 yards, respectively. Coldwater produced big gains of 30 and 42 yards.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Rioch said. “We had a couple of turnovers, but we reacted well defensively. Our front four on defense did a nice job of frustrating their QB.”
Anna bumped the lead 35-14 with 7:42 left in the third quarter on a nine-play, 69-yard drive. Stewart paved the way with 20 yards on two carries, including the TD.
After both teams exchanged possessions, Anna punter Kieth Sink stuck it inside the two-yard-line, but on 1st down and 10, Bruns hooked up with Klenke for a 67-yard gain. But then back-to-back sacks by Cody Bensman halted the drive abruptly as the third quarter expired.
Nate Metz kicked a 30-yard field goal with 10:35 left in the game to expand the lead 38-14. Metz was perfect on the night, converting 5-of-5 PATs and 1-of-1 field goals.
Coldwater wouldn’t fold the tent, scoring 14 points on two sustaining drives of 74 yards and 80 yards. Too little, too late.
Coldwater won the stat contest with 17 first downs and 376 yards of total offense, but the four turnovers in the first half proved to be disastrous.
Anna collected 10 first downs and totaled 361 yards, 277 by the backfield committee. Beasecker rushed for 88 yards on seven carries and two TDs. Stewart busted for 78 yards on 12 carries and two TDs. Cody Bensman added 26 yards and Dexter Bensman was tops with 100 yards on 15 attempts and one score.
The big question entering this season for Coldwater, could QB Austin Bruns fill the enormous footprints left by Keith Wenning? The answer is well on his way as the sophomore completed 22-of-39 throws for 349 yards and three TDs.
His favorite target, senior Reese Klenke, caught 11 passes for 200 yards and all three TDs. After three games, Klenke has 27 receptions for 528 yards and nine TDs.
Rioch praised the performance of Klenke, “We couldn’t stop the kid. He is too big and strong. It’s 6-4 vs. 6-0. We were in position to defend, but couldn’t stop him.”
Anna improves to 3-0 on the young season, but the grim specter of traveling to (3-0) Delphos St. John’s looms Saturday. followed by encounter with Marion Local back home the following week.
This three-game stretch of the season is about as difficult as eating corn on the cob with no teeth. But coach Rioch loves challenges. That’s why Anna joined the MAC.
The last time a Coldwater team started the season 1-2, postage stamps were 29 cents (1994). The Cavs host (2-1) St. Henry this Friday.