LIBERTY CENTER - Veteran football coaches Rex Lingruen of Liberty Center and John Downey of Archbold were both looking for some dj vu as their teams met in a Division V state football first-round playoff game last night.
Lingruen wanted a repeat of eight nights earlier here at Tiger Stadium, while Downey sought something from 19 years ago here and got it as his Blue Streaks took a 26-6 victory over their Northwest Ohio Athletic League rivals.
This win took the sting out of last week's 21-14 Streak loss on this same field when they squandered a 14-0 halftime lead over the Tigers. It was also Archbold's first win here since 1989.
"It was nice to get a second chance," Downey said. "Our kids played extremely hard, and I thought we were on top of it the whole night. It was a physical football game, and our kids came to play 48 minutes."
Archbold (9-2) will meet third-ranked Blanchard Valley Conference champion Liberty-Benton (11-1) in a second-round test Saturday at a site to be determined.
"We just want to move on," Downey said of ending the 19-year drought. "We get to play another game, and that's what it's all about."
Helping his coach erase the bad memories was Blue Streaks senior quarterback David Rupp. The lefty connected on 18 of 24 passes for 187 yards, and rushed 29 times for 95 yards, including touchdown runs of 2, 2 and 1 yard.
A punt by Archbold's Jacob Fidler bounced along the left sideline, striking a Tiger player on the leg, and Archbold recovered at the Liberty Center 26.
Rupp passed 11 yards to Breon Price, and Fidler (10 carries, 72 yards) ran 15 yards around the left end for the TD with 4:58 left in the first quarter.
Archbold then covered 76 yards on eight plays, with Rupp sneaking in 23 seconds into the second quarter.
Liberty Center got on the board when Jake Elling (12 carries, 100 yards) darted through the middle 60 yards for the TD
five minutes before halftime.
Archbold ate up all but 10 seconds of what remained in the half, covering 63 yards. Rupp's second two-yard TD run gave the Streaks a 20-6 halftime lead.
"Coming in, that was all the coaches were preaching was that it was the same thing as last week," Rupp said of the 14-point halftime lead. "They said we can't let down, and we have to play 48 minutes of football. Then, of course, we got stopped on that first possession, just like last week.
"But the defense stepped up and the offense was able to control the clock in the second half, and we were able to come out with the W."
The Streaks were denied points on two blocked field goals in the second half, but they were dominant otherwise. They possessed the ball for 20:08 of the final 24 minutes as Liberty ran just 13 plays after halftime, with two of its three drives ending when QB Patrick Brown was intercepted by Price.
Rupp's final TD sneak with
4:44 left closed the scoring.
Archbold topped Liberty Center 377-198 in total offense.
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