FINDLAY — All systems were go for Bryan on Friday night.
The Northwest Ohio Athletic League champion delivered a near-flawless first half against Caledonia River Valley in a Division IV football regional semifinal.
It led to the Golden Bears building a 36-point halftime advantage and ended with a 49-19 rout in a game that featured two undefeated teams.
The Vikings were no match for the Golden Bears.
Bryan (12-0) scored as many points before halftime against River Valley (11-1) as it had in four of its games this season.
The Vikings had allowed only two teams all season to score more than 14 points in a game.
“If we could have scripted it out, it probably would’ve went something like that,” Bryan coach Kevin Kline said of the first-half performance by the Golden Bears.
“That was a pretty good start for us, and we knew the start would be key.”
Bryan — registering its first 12-win season in school history — will play in its first regional championship when it faces Kenton (12-0) on Friday.
The Golden Bears made it look easy getting into the end zone, particularly during the first half when the Golden Bears scored six touchdowns.
Bryan quarterback Austin Schimmoeller served as a major catalyst to the offensive outburst before halftime.
The senior threw three of his four touchdown passes during the first half, and he scrambled his way through the Viking defense for a 31-yard touchdown run before the break.
“It makes my job easy when everyone is on the same page,” said Schimmoeller, who completed 14 of 19 passes for 194 yards and rushed 11 times for 155 yards.
“My receivers were catching balls and not dropping passes, and that was awesome. My line was huge tonight, and it’s all just a great feeling.”
The Golden Bears’ scoring barrage commenced with their first possession. They marched 65 yards on 10 plays with Schimmoeller finding Brandon Poncsak for a 22-yard touchdown completion to make it 7-0 with 9 minutes, 17 seconds left.
The Vikings struck right back with a scoring drive that ended with quarterback Matt Green’s 16-yard TD scamper with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
But the Golden Bears soon ended any thoughts of a close battle by scoring the next 35 points to close out the half.
Poncsak returned the ensuing kickoff and raced 87 yards for score to make it 13-6.
That play seemed to serve as the game-changing moment.
“I’ve always wanted to get one of those my whole high school career,” Poncsak said. “It’s my senior year, and I knew I had to get one. I found an opening, I took it and made some moves, got tripped up a little bit, but had to keep on going.”
Brock Minor set up the third score when he intercepted a pass thrown by Green near midfield with two minutes left in the first quarter. Schimmoeller then found Minor open and connected for a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-6.
Bryan’s lead increased to 28-6 after Schimmoeller teamed with a wide-open Lucas Nye for a 36-yard touchdown completion.
Schimmoeller then reached the end zone to make it 35-6 with just over five minutes left in the first half.
Bryan was able to get one more possession before halftime arrived, and the result was a 10-play, 81-yard scoring driving that ended with Sean Culler tossing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Sean Culler with three seconds left.
“We weren’t able to get some defensive stops, and our offense stalled out,” River Valley coach Doug Green said. “We weren’t able to make some plays, and in a game like this at this level, you just can’t do that.”
River Valley running back Gage Stuckman finished with 125 yards on 17 carries, while quarterback Matt Green completed 6 of 11 passes for 51 yards.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.
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