PIQUA – The Coldwater Cavaliers continued their bid for a fourth consecutive visit to the state championship game with a 41-22 win over previously unbeaten West Liberty-Salem Tigers.
“We have 23 seniors that are pretty focused.,” Coldwater coach Chip Otten said. “They’re doing a good job of going out and just playing hard and doing what we do.”
West Liberty-Salem won the opening toss and elected to receive to open round two of the Division V football playoffs.
The Tigers from West Liberty got off to a slow start, going three and out on their first series of plays on the night.
WL-S punted with Coldwater, returning the kick to the Tiger 43-yard line. It took the Cavaliers just 2:55 to go 43 yards in eight plays with Cavs senior quarterback Austin Bruns running the ball in from 5 yards out.
Kyle Bergman made good on the PAT kick, giving Coldwater a 7-0 lead with 6:58 to play in the first quarter.
A strong Coldwater defense held the Tigers to three and out with WL-S punting on forth and 11 from its own 28-yard line.
Coldwater recovered its own fumble on the Tigers’ punt. The Cavs started at their 34-yard line, throwing an incomplete pass on the first play of the series. Facing second and 10, Bruns hit Brody Hoying on two consecutive passes, 15 and 17-yard completions for first downs.
Caleb Siefring was Austin Bruns’ next target the following two plays. The first, a 17-yard pass completion and a first down, followed by a 7-yard reception to the Tigers’ 10-yard line. Bruns ran the ball to the 3-yard line on a 7-yard carry. Jordan Chapin carried 1 yard to the 2-yard marker. A Bruns 2-yard run was good for Coldwater’s second touchdown with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. The PAT was good, and the Cavs took a 14-0 lead.
“We keep reminding them we can’t win it tonight (state championship), but we can certainly take ourselves out of it tonight, so you don’t want to look past somebody and not play well and then you go home,” Otten said.
Ross Hickenbottom returned Colwater’s kick to the 20-yard line for the Tigers. Quarterback Riley Simms was cut down in the backfield for a 2-yard loss, setting up second and 12 at the 18 for the Tigers. Travis Mayes took the handoff from Simms and raced 82-yards for a Tigers’ touchdown with 0:56 in the first quarter. Grant Burden made good on the PAT kick, bringing the score to 14-7 with Coldwater leading as the first quarter come to a close.
Receiving the kick off, Coldwater was unable to move the ball, went three and out and punted to the Tigers.
WL-S started a new series of downs at its 28-yard line. The Tigers picked up two first downs, moving the ball into Cavalier territory only to have the drive stall. Facing fourth and 15 at the Cav’s 46-yard line, West Liberty-Salem punted out of bounds to Coldwater.
Coldwater began first and 10 at its 23-yard line. The Cavs picked up two quick first downs. With first and 10 at the 42, the Tiger defense sacked Bruns for a 7-yard loss. Coldwater picked up 8 of the yards on a pass completion from Bruns to Chapin.
Looking at third and 9 from the Tigers’ 41-yard line, a Coldwater bad snap left the Cavs facing a punting situation on fourth and 26 at their own 42-yard line.
The Tigers started at their 33-yard line with 4:15 left in the half. A strong Cavalier defense held WL-S to three and out.
With WL-S punting on fourth and 3 at its 40-yard marker, Coldwater’s Zach Dickman successfully blocked the Tigers’ punt with 2:41 in the first half.
“The blocked punt was huge,” West Liberty-Salem coach Toby Smith said. “We made a mistake. We told them going in we couldn’t make mistakes. They are a very, very good football team. We knew that going in. We knew we had to play one of our best games of the season.”
Taking over at the Tigers’ 30-yard line, Coldwater scored in six plays on a 5-yard pass from Bruns to Mitch Schoenherr for a 20-7 lead with 0:41 on the clock. Bergman’s PAT kick sailed through the uprights, giving the Cavaliers and 21-7 halftime lead.
The second half started with West Liberty-Salem kicking to Coldwater. It took the Cavs just nine plays to go 86-yards on a touchdown drive ending with Jordan Chapin scoring from 2 yards out and a 27-7 lead. The nine-play drive had seven first downs and only two second downs.
Coldwater’s PAT kick was not good as it went wide left. A roughing the kicker penalty against WL-S moved the ball half the distance to the goal and a replay of the down. The PAT was good on the second attempt, upping the score in favor of Coldwater 28-7.
West Liberty-Salem managed one first down on its next offensive series but was unable to sustain a drive. Facing fourth and 5 at the Coldwater 45-yard line, the Tigers were forced to punt. Grant Burden kicked out of bounds at the 9-yard line assuring no Cavalier punt return.
Coldwater moved the ball 91 yards in eight plays for a Cavs’ touchdown. Quarterback Austin Bruns carried four times for 62 yards and completed two passes for 28 yards on the scoring drive. The touchdown came on a 19-yard scamper by Bruns. With the PAT kick good, Coldwater stretched its lead to 35-7 at 2:17 to play in the third quarter.
“Austin (Bruns) really ran the ball well today,” coach Otten said. “We felt like we got them early in the game. We spread them out a bunch, got some easy, we call them quick steps and bubble screens so they widen them out and you run it up inside.”
Taylor Cordell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers’ 28-yard line. WL-S ran seven plays including a 20-yard pass from Simms to Landon Hormann to keep the drive alive as the third quarter came to an end.
WL-S quarterback Riley Simms capped off the Tiger drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter. The PAT kick was good, giving WL-S 14 points on the night.
A successful onside kick gave the Tigers the ball at the Cavalier 46-yard line. WL-S could only pick up one first down on the drive. The series was cut short with Coldwater taking over coming up with a Tiger fumble.
West Liberty-Salem looked to have intercepted a Coldwater pass on the first play of the series only to have it nullified as the Tigers’ player was out of bounds. Coldwater would move the ball 55-yards the next seven plays, scoring on a Mitch Feltz 7-yard run.
The PAT attempt was wide left, allowing the 41-14 score to stand with 5:15 to play in the game.
WL-S returned the Cavalier kickoff to its own 25-yard line. Picking up three first downs and moving the ball to Cav’s 33-yard line, the Tiger’s drive stalled with Coldwater taking over on downs.
Both teams freely substituted for the starters as the outcome of the game had been decided.
Coldwater unable to move the ball punted to WL-S. With 0:24 remaining in the game, West Liberty-Salem sophomore Kameron Evans outran the Coldwater defense for a 60-yard touchdown run. Evans made good on the two-point conversion run for a final score of 41-22.
Coach Smith reflected on the game and season.
“We showed our battle, and our seniors should get a ton of credit for competing the way they competed tonight,” the West Liberty-Salem coach said. “We want to get better as a program and we are getting closer. This team has proven that we can compete. We just have to get better.”
Coldwater had 15 rushing and nine nine passing first downs for a total of 24, 35 rushes for 193yards, 17 of 26 passing for 214 yards and 61 total offensive plays for 407 yards.
West Liberty-Salem had five rushing and seven passing and one by penalty for a total of 13 first downs, 34 rushes for 177 yards and 11 of 19 passing for 148 yards.
Neither team had pass interceptions. Coldwater recovered its only fumble while WL-S fumbled two times, losing one to the Cavs.
For Coldwater, Jordan Chapin carried seven times for 71 yards, Austin carried 19 times for 91 yards, and Mitch Feltz ran three times for 11 yards. Austin Bruns was 17 for 23 passing for 214 yards. Receiving, Caleb Siefring caught seven passes for 79 yards, and Brody Hoying caught six for 118 yards.
For West Liberty-Salem, Travis Mayes carried nine times for 67 yards, Riley Simms carried 14 times for 32 yards, and Taylor Cordell eight carries for 15 yards. Riley Simms passed 19 times, completing 11 passes for 148 yards.
Coldwater’s season continues at 7 p.m. Saturday in the regional finals against Covington at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.