Rossford's Josh Heidebrink scores a touchdown against Anthony Wayne's Billy Benner (38), Tim Babcock (74) and Jordan Ulrich (62). Rossford won its first NLL title since 1990.
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No one is more convinced than Anthony Wayne about who is the Northern Lakes League champion.
Rossford posted a convincing 41-0 victory over the Generals last night to put to rest any question about which team is the league's best.
The Bulldogs clinched an outright title by steamrolling the Generals, who needed to defeat Rossford to earn a share of the title. The victory also secures a home playoff game for the Bulldogs.
It's the first league championship for Rossford since 1990.
“Boys, you won the league outright, give yourselves a hand,” said Rossford coach Tom Ferguson, addressing his team shortly after its most meaningful win of the regular season.
The Bulldogs, who closed out the regular season 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the NLL, turned a tight game into a rout by scoring four touchdowns in the third quarter. Darren Paige had his hand in on each one of the scores.
The Bulldogs' No. 1 offensive and defensive threat led the third-quarter onslaught when he took the opening kickoff for the second half and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead to 14-0.
Paige made it 21-0 a few minutes later when he streaked through the Generals defense from the quarterback spot on a second-and-25 play and raced 84 yards down the sideline for another score.
Paige hooked up with Kyle Ingraham shortly after that with a four-yard touchdown pass with 5:37 remaining in the quarter. With just over a minute remaining in the quarter, Paige made it 34-0 when he capped the fourth scoring drive of the quarter by running untouched around right end for an 11-yard TD.
A one-yard touchdown plunge by Paul Curtis on the first play of the fourth quarter completed the scoring.
“Hard work does pay off. This is what we've wanted for four years,” said Paige, who had one of five interceptions. “We've worked hard. “We've been thinking about this ever since we were in the seventh and eighth grades.”
Ingraham, one of the senior leaders on the team, said thoughts of sharing the championship with someone else was never in their plans even after losing to Maumee a week earlier.
“This really means a lot because we wanted to win it outright,” Ingraham said.
Ferguson, already wet from the rainfall, was doused with a bucket of water by his players with only a few seconds remaining.
“This is fantastic,” Ferguson said. “What a heck of a year. They did what they had to do to come out on top.”
Rossford led in total yardage 283-129.
The Bulldogs rushed for 229 yards led by Paige's 108 on eight carries and Curtis' 86 on 16 carries. AW was held to just 14 yards rushing.
The Rossford defense controlled play in the first half. The Generals were held to 67 total yards after two quarters. Their running game was limited to minus-11 yards.
The Generals (5-5, 4-3 NLL) didn't find much success throwing the football in the first half either.
Keith Boris, Josh Heidebrink and Paige each intercepted a pass before halftime for the Bulldogs. Boris and Justin Gladieux came through with interceptions in the second half.
Yet, the Generals went into the second half only trailing 7-0.
A five-yard touchdown run by Heidebrink midway through the first quarter was the only score of the first half.