Top-ranked Coldwater put clamps on Eagles’ offense


LIMA — There weren’t any miracle comebacks for Liberty-Benton Saturday night at Lima Stadium.

One week after stunning Patrick Henry on the same turf, the Eagles’ magic ran out as Coldwater took it to Liberty-Benton both offensively and defensively in a 38-0 Division V state semifinal.

No. 1-ranked Coldwater (14-0) will move into the state finals for the fourth straight year and face defending state champion Kirtland (14-0) in a rematch of last year’s title game. Kirtland, ranked No. 2, defeated Baltimore Liberty Union 41-7.

“We are playing well right now,” said Coldwater coach Chip Otten, who played football at BGSU. “Kirtland is a tough ballclub, and it should be a fun rematch.”

Liberty-Benton (12-2) hung with the Cavaliers in the first quarter and trailed just 3-0 after Coldwater’s Kyle Bergman booted a 32-yard field goal.

But Coldwater, which won state titles in 2005 and ’07, took control with three touchdowns on each of its second-quarter possessions.

“Once there was blood in the water, look out, because here they come,” Liberty-Benton coach Tim Nichols said.

Cavaliers quarterback Austin Bruns ran for 23 yards and passed for 17 more on the first scoring drive, which covered 62 yards in 11 plays. Bruns capped it with a three-yard run.

The senior quarterback tossed a 13-yard TD pass to Caleb Siefring to end an eight-play, 63-yard drive on Coldwater’s second drive of the quarter.

After L-B rolled the dice with 1:52 left in the half and came up short on a fourth-and-two from their own 37, Bruns struck quickly. He tossed a 30-yard pass to Josh Huber and then ran in from seven yards out.

Bruns tossed a 32-yard scoring strike to Huber in the third quarter, and Grant Muhlenkamp capped the scoring on a two-yard fourth-quarter run.

“That’s real good stuff right there,” Nichols said of Coldwater. “There are no weaknesses, and they expose anything you may have that is weak. They are the bar for a lot of programs.

“If, when the year started, we would have been told ‘Hey, you’ll get to play week 14’, there would have been a lot of surprised people. When their year starts, anything less than week 15 is not up to par. That program right there is the real deal.”

Liberty-Benton struggled offensively all evening.

The Eagles managed a pair of first downs on its opening drive of the game and another later in the first quarter, but didn’t move the chains again until the third quarter.

Liberty-Benton managed just 179 yards of offense.

The Eagles gained 150 yards rushing, with 74 coming in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Mitch Linhart led the way with 58 yards on 12 carries, but the senior had trouble throwing the ball. He completed just 4 of 14 passes for 29 yards.

“They put it on us,” Nichols said. “We battled early, but at the end of the day I’m not sure we had what they had."