A huge MAC road test. The growth of a new quarterback. A second half gut check. The oldest trick plays in the book. The roar of the train. And an immaculate interception underscored another MVPHD Game of the Week instant classic.
DELPHOS ST. JOHN’S RALLIES FOR HUGE MAC ROAD WIN AT ANNA
By Tim Langevin
Anna dominated 21-7 at the break, but Delphos St. John’s stormed back
with 22 unanswered points in the second half for a covetous 29-21 MAC
road win at Booster Stadium Friday night.
It was supposed to be a down year for the Blue Jays. After all,
several bullets (21 seniors) were missing from the 2010 state
championship team’s loaded gun. Laugh out loud. We are talking St.
John’s football, winners of six state and nine MAC titles since 1997. A
team that boasts a 44-7 playoff record.
When Anna started varsity football in 1999, St. John’s was amidst a
57-game win streak, the longest in state history. Back then, these kids
were learning to ride bicycles with training wheels.
We are talking about head coach Todd Schulte, architect of four state
and four MAC titles with a 129-34 record in his 13th season. A man who
is 102-26 in conference play and
34-5 in nine playoff appearances.
St. John’s suffered two tough, seven-point losses to bigger schools
to start the season, but that BLUE GRIT surfaced and the Blue Jays find
themselves perched atop the MAC standings with a 2-0 mark. So much for a
“It was a gritty team performance,” said Schulte. “I’m proud of these
kids. They stayed with it and it went down to the wire in a typical MAC
game. Nothing is easy, especially not at your place. There is something
about these kids. No quit.”
As for Anna, the Rockets entered the 2011 season with high
expectations, including a first-ever MAC championship since joining the
conference in 2006. And for good reason, Anna returned seven starters on
offense, including big playmaker RB Cole Furgason, and six starters on
Head coach Bryan Rioch has been with the program since its inception 13 years ago. He owns a
93-34 record and a 30-14 mark in MAC competition.
The Rockets blasted out of the gate with two impressive wins to start
the season, but since then, suffered two MAC losses to Coldwater last
week and St. John’s this night. And find themselves at the bottom of the
standings with a visit to Marion Local (3-1, 2-0) week five.
Rioch said, ” I don’t know what happened in the second half. We had
control of the game, but once again, turnovers hurt us. I think we had
three turnovers in the second half if you count the safety…I don’t know.
We had high expectations. We are faced with the same opportunity as
last year. We started 3-2 after five weeks and made a nice run…That’s
OK. We have Marion Local next week. I’m tired of their shenanigans. We
will be ready for them.”
The opening possession of the game, Anna stretched together a
13-play, 75-yard drive. Cole Furgason accounted for 45 yards, mostly on
Jet Sweeps, including a 25-yard gain on third and three. But the play of
the series was a fake punt on fourth and four. Maverick Long took the
snap and bolted up the middle for five yards and the first down. Rioch
wasted no time with some razzle, dazzle.
Seven running plays later, Furgason edged the sideline for a
five-yard TD run with 5:46 left in the quarter for a 7-0 lead. Furgason
finished the game with 108 yards on 24 carries and the one score. He has
446 yards and six TDs on the season.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Jays moved the ball 35 yards and was
forced to punt. Anna took over and scored again with 9:30 left until
half for a 14-0 margin. The Rockets marched down the field in nine
straight running plays and Dustin Noffsinger capped it with a two-yard
blast on fourth and goal. The drive covered 85 yards, but 64 yards of
the real estate came via Wes Wolters brilliant run up the middle on a
St. John’s scored on its third possession of the game, taking
advantage of a short field. The Jays covered 46 yards in three quick
plays with 4:17 until half to slice the lead 14-7. Jordan Bergfeld
busted for eight yards and QB Mark Boggs rambled 27 yards before Tyler
Jettinghoff scampered 11 yards to the
It was a break-out performance for Boggs. The junior QB completed
9-of-15 passes for 149 yards and one TD with no picks. He ran hard nine
times for 46 yards. Not bad considering it was just his second start.
Starting QB Alex Clark was injured in week two and Boggs stepped in.
Obviously, it took some time for Boggs to adjust to the speed of the
game. He entered the contest
6-of-14 for 71 yards with one TD and one interception. Now his
confidence and season totals are rising as evidenced by 15-of-29 passing
for 220 yards and two TDs on the season.
Schulte praised Boggs performance, “He grew up a lot tonight. He made
some great throws and had some great reads on the option. He is a
hard-nosed, gritty kid. He fits the definition of this team.”
The momentum shifted as the Jay defense forced a three and out for
Anna. St. John’s went on the attack. Boggs hit Tanner Calvelage for a
21-yard gain. Three plays later, Boggs found Calvelage again for a
10-yard gain to the Anna 36-yard line, but a vicious hit forced a fumble
and Eric Schlagetter pounced on it.
Anna took advantage of the momentum shift and marched 74 yards in six
plays to take a commanding 21-7 half-time lead. QB Jay Meyer completed
two passes for 30 yards, including a 10-yard TD strike to WR Chandon Williams. But the play of the drive
was Furgason’s 30-yard toss to Williams on a halfback option. Rioch has
more tricks up his sleeve than magician Chris Angel.
Rioch said, “Going up two scores
at halftime was pretty important. We had a good week of preparation on both sides of the ball
and we carried that into the first half.”
Schulte said, “I told the kids at halftime to stay calm and stay in
the game. We made some adjustments on the defensive side.”
Those adjustments paid off as St. John’s held Anna scoreless in the
second half. But it wasn’t without trepidation as the Jays took the
second-half kickoff and marched 63 yards before fumbling on the
two-yard-line. Schlagetter recovered it for his second fumble recovery
of the game.
“I thought, here we go again,” Schulte said. “We kept moving, kept
moving, getting first downs and then a turnover.”
The agony was short-lived. Two plays later, Meyer recovered the snap
in the endzone for a safety. Anna still led 21-9 with 9:04 left in the
After a penalty and short kick, St. John’s was in excellent field
position, starting from Anna’s 36-yard-line. Boggs wasted no time,
finding WR Dylan Krendl for a 25-yard screen pass. The next play,
Jettinghoff jetted 11 yards for the
score. The Anna lead dwindled 21-16.
Anna responded mixing the run with the pass for 48 yards. Furgason
ran for 20 yards on five plays and Meyer was 2-of-2 for 31 yards,
including a circus catch by Wolters. Wolters had two touches this game, a
64-yard run and a 23-yard catch. Then on fourth and inches, Furgason
was stuffed for a three-yard loss. End of threat.
Rioch said, “That fourth down play just killed us. Give their defense
credit. It was my fault. That was a bad play call.”
St. John’s siezed control of the lead 22-21 with 7:50 left in the
game. The Jays strung together nine running plays by committee. Chris
Will ran for 11 yards, Jettinghoff covered 14 yards, and Bergfeld plowed
for nine yards. On the 11th play of the march, it was second and goal
from the 12-yard-line and Boggs connected with Calvelage on a nifty
Calvelage was the offensive star of the game with six receptions for
109 yards and one TD.
With 3:05 left in the game and 87 yards from paydirt, Anna would not
“Go gentle into that good night” as the Rockets hurried down the field.
Meyer completed 4-of-8 passes for 47 yards. On third down and 10 from
the Jays’ 37-yard-line with 1:04 remaining,
Meyer tossed it to Williams, who pitched it to Furgason for a 13-yard
gain. The perfect hook and ladder play. Just another trick by Rioch
during crunch time.
The roar of the train arrived on cue, but this night, it wasn’t meant
to be for Anna. Two plays later, Ryan Densel stepped in front of WR
Chandon Williams and took it all the way to the “HOUSE” 98 yards with
34.8 seconds left.
The roar of the visitors side was louder than the train. End of threat.
End of game.
Outside a noisy locker room, Densel recalled the play of the game,
“We were playing a cover two zone. I saw the quarterback throw it and
hurried over and jumped in front of it and took it down the sideline.
All I saw was open space and ran as hard as I could. I saw out of the
corner of my eye that a kid had an angle on me, so I cut back into the
Schulte said, “It was a fitting end for our defense. They have played
tough all season. It’s about time we got some breaks going our way. Now
we just have to keep moving forward. We still have a lot of work ahead
Both teams displayed balanced offensive attacks. Anna collected 16
first downs and rushed for 257 yards and passed for 168 yards for 425
total yards. Meyer was 13-of-20 for 138 yards with one TD and one
interception. Williams caught four passes for 65 yards.
St. John’s recorded 12 first downs with 174 yards on the ground and
149 through the air. Bergfeld rushed for 44 yards on eight carries and
Jettinghoff led the way with 57 yards and two scores.
And so, for the second straight week, MVPHD followers have been
served another instant classic.