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Published: Saturday, 10/15/2005

TAAC: Ottawa Hills rolls in 2nd

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ottawa Hills QB Sam Miller not only eluded Northwood tacklers, he was able to throw two touchdown passes in the final minutes of the first half to cement the pivotal TAAC victory. Ottawa Hills QB Sam Miller not only eluded Northwood tacklers, he was able to throw two touchdown passes in the final minutes of the first half to cement the pivotal TAAC victory.
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Ottawa Hills used a dominating second-quarter performance at Northwood last night to take control of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference football race.

The Green Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the second period to claim a 38-6 victory over the Rangers.

Ottawa Hills improved to 6-2 overall and remained the league's lone unbeaten at 4-0. Northwood fell to 3-5 and 3-1 and lost for just the second time in 23 TAAC contests.

In the decisive second quarter the Green Bears piled up 174 yards of total offense, including 140 passing yards. But the most impressive numbers were posted by Ottawa Hills' defense, which pushed Northwood back for minus-3 yards on 14 plays.

"In the last four years, Northwood has outscored us 130-14," Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman said. "It was important for our confidence, I think, that we stop them."

The Green Bears used a 10-play, 65-yard drive to score on their first possession of the game. Matt Netter, who finished with a game-high 67 yards, scored from five yards.

The Rangers responded with a long drive that pushed to the Ottawa Hills' 6, but Sam Miller knocked aside a fourth-down pass to keep Northwood out of the end zone.

Then Miller, the Green Bears' quarterback, pushed his team to three scores in the final 5:44 of the half.

Johnny Crooks scored on a one-yard run to cap an eight-play drive. Then Miller connected with Kenny Valuska on a 44-yard TD toss and Aaron Crooks on a 37-yard scoring strike.

"Our defense set us up so perfectly, we were almost on their side of the 50 [every time we got the ball]," Miller said. "It's cake for us [to score] from there."

The Green Bears limited Northwood to 59 rushing yards at the break.

"We wanted to put them in situations where they had to throw the ball when they didn't want to," Hardman said. "Their success in throwing the ball has always been in play-action, and we were able to get them into long-yardage situations where play-action wasn't going to be too effective.

What hurt the Rangers in Ottawa Hills' 21-point flurry was an offense that, on one drive late in the half, went backwards 26 yards on a pair of sacks and a penalty.

"I don't know if we got shell-shocked, but when the wheels came off, they went flying into the ditch," Northwood coach Ken James said. "When things went badly for us, we couldn't pull ourselves out [of trouble]."

Ottawa Hills piled up 337 yards of total offense in the contest, including 176 passing yards. A whopping 255 of those yards came in the first half alone as Miller completed 8-of-14 passes for 173 yards and two TDs.

Northwood finished with 232 yards of total offense, with 195 coming on the ground. But much of that yardage came after the game had been decided.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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