No Jumbo-Tron. No instant replay. No prescription turf. No 10,000-seat stadium. No five star recruits. No offense. Just another old fashion Midwest Athletic Conference battle between rival neighborhoods. The Great American Rivalry Series game was just that and MVPHD had it covered.
Video by Alex Sator
COLDWATER SCORES LATE, SURVIVES DELPHOS ST. JOHN’S IN MATCH-UP OF OHIO NO. 1S
By Tim Langevin
Perception is reality.
This MAC contest ebbed and flowed like an epic poem. Two dreaded foes fought courageously in the mode of ancient literature as hero Caleb Siefring determined the fate of the Delphos Nation with one swift catch.
In reality, this gridiron clash between Coldwater and Delphos St. John’s was a modern day instant classic.
Trailing 14-10 with 3:13 left in the game, Coldwater QB Austin Bruns, who struggled with the Blue Jays’ three-man front the entire game, found resolve and marched his team 65 yards in nine plays to pull out a 17-14 victory Friday night at Cavalier Stadium.
That resolve was Caleb Siefring. The junior WR caught three passes for 37 yards the final drive, including his 18-yard TD reception on second down and six yards to go with 1:13 remaining. And it was a dandy. He caught it at about the 10-yard-line and dashed down the sideline before diving to the pylon while in hot pursuit. It was a play the Cavaliers worked on all week and assistant coach Jason Hemmelgarn felt it was the right time to call Siefring’s number.
Siefring explained how it all went down, “We wanted to go deep on them, but we couldn’t because they dropped eight players back. We put a new play in this week. Instead of lining up as a receiver, I lined up in the backfield. I ran a short wheel route and Austin (Bruns) was able to throw me a good ball and then I was able to catch it and get it in.”
Siefring finished the game with four catches for 58 yards. On defense, he recorded several tackles and two picks, including a 35-yard interception return in the first quarter which set up Troy Otten’s 43-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. Siefring’s performance earned him The Great American Rivalry Series MVP of the game.
It was a tough passing night for Bruns as St. John’s dropped eight players back, forcing him to throw into double coverage. Bruns was 5-of-16 for 96 yards and one TD heading into Coldwater’s last possession. But that final stretch, Bruns flipped the switch, completing 6-of-8 passes for 58 yards and the winning score. He finished the game 11-of-24 for 154 yards and two TDs.
Bruns said, “I knew I had to clutch up in the end. We were able to put something together near the end. It was my turn to make a few plays and get the offense going. The O-Line did a great job of protecting me and I just kept looking for my best buddy (Caleb Siefring) to make some plays.”
No doubt Siefring has been Brun’s go-to receiver this season. The 6′ wide-out has 21 catches for 304 yards and six TDs.
Coldwater coach Chip Otten said, “Siefring is our playmaker. He gets the offense going and that “Caleb Special” play. We found the right time to call it. The ball was on the right hash mark. It was time and it worked.”
The Cavs capitalized on a Blue Jay turnover for a 7-0 lead with 8:52 left in the opening quarter. After an interception by Jordan Chapin, Bruns hit Josh Huber on a 53-yard TD strike. Huber had a big game with five catches for 82 yards.
St. John’s cut the lead 10-7 with :02 seconds remaining before the marching band. After an Austin Jostpille pick, the Blue Jays took advantage of a short field and traversed 16 yards on seven plays, capped by a one-yard TD plunge by FB Jordan Bergfeld.
Both offenses suffered constipation with minimal ball movement on first down. The Jays averaged 2.09 yards and the Cavs weren’t much better. Both coaches shared concern over the lack of offense.
St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said, “You don’t spot a good team like Coldwater 10 points and expect to win. We couldn’t of started the game any worse. That’s where we’ve been. We don’t start to play until our backs are to the wall. I don’t know. I haven’t found the trigger, yet, to get these kids out of the locker room. It’s been the same story all year…Our offense isn’t good enough to go 80 yards. We don’t execute. We don’t get off the ball.”
Otten said, “I think both defenses are stout, but both offenses are still trying to find ways. When things aren’t going well, it’s hard to find plays that will work…Bruns hung in there. He’ll learn to live for another play. He gave it his all. Maybe he tried too hard when nothing was there. He’s still learning. The quarterback position is hard. Look at Tony Romo. He threw like five interceptions one game.”
Clearly, this contest was a defensive battle as evident by the stat sheet. Coldwater finished with 51 yards rushing and 154 yards passing with nine first downs. St. John’s recorded 11 first downs and 187 total yards. The Jays turned the ball over three times and Coldwater once, all by interceptions.
Coldwater DE Mark Brunet was active with 2 1/2 sacks and four tackles. He leads the MAC with 7 1/2 sacks.
“The defense stepped up,” Brunet said. “We played our hearts out. Played as one. We didn’t want to let each other down. We knew this was a big one and that if we want to win the MAC, we have to beat them…I knew if we got the ball back, we’d put it in. We never lost faith. Everybody trusts everyone.”
That trust was tested when St. John’s took the lead for the first time 14-10 with 3:19 left in the third quarter. On fourth and one from the Coldwater 24-yard-line, Bergfeld took the hand-off out of a stacked I formation and busted off-tackle for a 24-yard TD romp.
Hold the phone folks. This game was far from over.
After the ensuing kick-off, Coldwater started from its 22-yard-line. Bruns connected with Siefring on a 29-yard pass play and ran the ball four times for 15 yards. The Cavs faced a fourth and three from St. John’s 31-yard-line, but Bruns was stuffed by Tanner Calvelage and Brett Schwinnen for NO GAIN.
The Jays took over on downs. QB Mark Boggs moved his team 43 yards on a 14-yard pass play to Calvelage and three running plays for 14 yards by Tyler Jettinghoff and a 15-yard face mask penalty. But on fourth and six, Boggs couldn’t convert the pass to Calvelage. End of threat.
The Jays defense held once again and then the Cavalier defense held again before the winning drive.
Jettinghoff and Bergfeld paced the St. John’s ground attack with 57 and 48 yards, respectively. QB Mark Boggs was 8-of-16 for 78 yards with three interceptions and four sacks for -23 yards. Kyle Neumeier recorded one sack for -6 yards on defense.
“It was six versus three. We had to get a pass rush. They did it at the end. Six versus three,” Schulte said in a polite manner. But one could tell he was burning inside. He added, “Our strength is our defense. It has been all year. Just have to find a way to generate some offense…We got things going in the second half, but then crunch time we couldn’t get it done.”
Otten told his players, “This is why you play. This is why you lift all those weights and run those miles. Not to beat somebody 60-0, but to play in a great game like this, against a team that will win the state again in D-VI.”
Otten told reporters, “It was fun. Not at the time, but it was fun. The whole atmosphere was awesome. It’s exciting for these players.”
Evidently, it was time for St. John’s to pay the piper. Coldwater’s victory snapped St. John’s 22-game MAC win streak, including two straight against the Cavaliers. More important, Coldwater and Marion Local lead the pack with 5-0 records. St. John’s drops one game back at 4-1.
There is still plenty of MAC football. Coldwater travels to Marion Local this Friday and then St. John’s hosts Marion Local week nine.
What a grind! What a conference! What an epic classic!