HAMLER The annual Henry County battle between Liberty Center and Patrick Henry mirrored the continuous downpour that saturated Big Red Stadium last night.
Several lightning flashes resulted in points, but it was the steady play of the lines from Patrick Henry that gave the Patriots a 39-21 victory.
PH dominated the line of scrimmage, especially on defense, to claim its ninth consecutive victory in this series. The Patriot defense limited the Tigers to just 151 yards of total offense to improve to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
Liberty Center fell to 3-1 and 2-1.
Bottom line was they controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and we didn t, LC coach Rex Lingruen said. Defensively they controlled the line of scrimmage, and offensively they controlled the line of scrimmage.
The only side of the ball we won was on special teams.
The Tigers Andy Spiess fielded the opening kickoff on his own 12 and promptly brought it back 88 yards for a score, one of two kickoffs LC returned for a touchdown. But PH responded with two touchdowns at the end of the quarter, then piled up 19 more points in the second period to lead 33-21 at the half.
That s not coaching give all the credit to the kids, Patriots coach Bill Inselmann said of the comeback after Liberty Center s early kickoff return. Some kids would deflate they would let it bother them. I think it comes with one thing: confidence.
We ve been winning, and it has given us confidence. If I knew how it happened I would bottle it, sell it, and become a millionaire.
The PH offense rolled to 221 yards at the half, with much of it coming on a 65-yard TD run by quarterback Luke George.
But it was the Patriot defense that set the tone for the opening period and the game. On Liberty Center s first series, Patrick Henry pushed the Tigers back nine yards. Those three negative-yardage plays were the first of 13 the Patriots produced.
We came to play, and we knew we had to get the job done, PH lineman Cody Pettit said. We take pride in our defensive line.
When we started off [pushing them backward], it had to get us pumped up. It got the momentum going for us.
Outside of one 11-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a one-yard TD plunge by Jake Elling, Liberty Center had eight drives that lasted just three plays.
Offensively I thought we did a pretty good job on the line, Inselmann said. But I thought we did a tremendous job on the defensive line. I can t remember so many times when we forced them to three-and-out.
The Patrick Henry offense, which finished with 378 yards, was led by Justin Buenger, who ran for 118 yards and two TDs on 11 carries. George added 79 yards on 15 rushes while completing 7 of 15 passes for 107 yards and two more scores.
George s favorite target was tight end Austin Bower, who caught four passes for 72 yards and the two TDs.
Elling topped the Tigers with 76 yards rushing, but the production didn t come close to satisfying Lingruen.
We got one drive together, and we were OK, but we didn t establish anything after that, Lingruen said. We made some mental mistakes. We turned the ball over too many times. And we had some stupid, stupid penalties that gave them one touchdown and nearly gave them another.
You can t make those mistakes in a big game.
Contact John Wagner at:email@example.com 419-724-6481.