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Columbian uses possesion, turnovers to beat Clyde

AnthonyMoujaes • Nov 14, 2010 at 1:22 AM

Limit the time a team possesses the ball, then you limit their chances of scoring.

Five turnovers -- four of them in the second half -- don't help either.

A late touchdown for Clyde made the end of Saturday's regional semifinal interesting, but Tiffin Columbian (11-1) held on to win, 13-7, at Don Paul Stadium in Fremont, and will play in a Division II regional championship Saturday against Columbus Bishop Watterson (11-1), a 21-7 winner against Elida.

Mac Wilkerson grabbed the ball with one hand after the Fliers blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt, and returned it 95 yards for Clyde's (10-2) only touchdown in the game with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter. But the offense didn't see the ball after Columbian recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

"It comes down to turnovers and penalties," Clyde coach Marc Gibson said. "That's the difference.

"We would stop them, then give them yards (on penalties). You have to play a near perfect game this late in the season."

Columbian had possession of the ball more than twice as long as Clyde (32:50 to 15:10) and ran 70 plays to Clyde's 39.

"It comes down to special team and turnover margin," first-year Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio said. "Not only do we get the ball back (after a turnover) but we flip the field position... It's hard to drive 80 yards on our defense, so even when we didn't score we'd still turn the field."

The Tornadoes kicked two field goals and sustained the game's only offensive drive in the first half on a short pass from Ryan Tittle to Austin Bentz with 1:47 left in the second quarter.

"The plan was to possess the ball," Colatruglio said. "The plan was to punch it in more in the red zone, too."

Limiting Clyde to 19 first-half plays and just two first downs helped Columbian to a 10-0 lead at halftime. In the second half, the Fliers fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions -- the second was a Jordan Colson muffed punt that set up a 32-yard field goal that made the score 13-0.

"We had a few three-and-outs. That's where you get time of possession," Colatruglio said. "We had the ball most of the first quarter. And we made plays on third down. (Clyde's) a physical team that made it hard to move the ball."

Things started well for Columbian on 15 of its 16 plays of the opening drive. Mike Lee had a 20-yard run on an end around, and Vince Kurtz gained 15 yards to set up first down at the Fliers' 8.

After the next three plays netted six yards, Kurtz carried on fourth down from the 2, but fumbled it away.

Gabe Gilbert recovered for Clyde, but the Fliers gave it right back three plays later when Ryan Meyer's pass for Bennett Brown was caught, but Brown lost the ball to the Tornadoes' Shawn Cole, setting up Caden Chapman's 22-yard field goal.

His second attempt from 22 yards in the game late in the fourth with Columbian trying to put the game away didn't fare as well. The snap was high and the Fliers got penetration up the middle to block the attempt, then the ball deflected almost perfectly to Wilkerson near the left hash-mark, setting up his long run.

"The ball happened to bounce in my hands, and no one was there to catch me" said Wilkerson, who played most of the season with an injured shoulder.

"He's an athlete and a warrior," Gibson said. "He's been playing hurt since the Huron game (Sept. 24) and refused to come out of the game."

Columbian's touchdown drive ate 5:05 off the clock and went 54 yards, set up by Kurtz's 12 yard-run and a third-down pass from Tittle to Jesse Hernandez for 21 yards on third and 10 at the Clyde 37. After converting third down, Tittle completed a low pass to Bentz on a slant pass in the end zone for a 10-0 lead after Champan's PAT.

The rest was on the Tornadoes' defense, which held Clyde to eight first downs and 117 totals yards.

"They brought a lot of defensive pressure and blitzing from the outside, and they had solid coverage over the top," Gibson said. "When you can drop eight, and three or four pressure you, that makes it tough."

The Fliers defense, which was on the field far more than Columbian's, kept the Tornadoes to 3.3 yards per play and 234 yards on 16 first downs. Columbian was 4 of 16 on third down and 1 of 5 on fourth down.

"The defense played phenomenally," Gibson said. "Our defense kept them to a low-scoring game and gave us a chance."

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