By DAVE HANNEMAN
Genoa took a chance early in Friday’s game with Ottawa-Glandorf.
Then Ottawa-Glandorf took the Comets to school.
Already down 14-0 and needing a jolt of offensive inspiration, Genoa went for it on fourth-and-2 from its own 47-yard line with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Cody Alt sniffed out the play, however, shooting in from the right side and dumping Genoa’s Ryan Espinoza for a 2-yard loss.
Five plays later, O-G quarterback Caleb Siefker raced 18 yards for a score on the first play of the second quarter, igniting a 20-point barrage that gave the Titans a 34-0 halftime lead in what would end up as a 41-12 win over Genoa in a matchup of unbeaten state-ranked teams in a Division IV, Region 14 semifinal game at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
Now 12-0 and ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press Division IV poll, O-G will face unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Columbus Hartley next Friday in the Region 14 championship game. Hartley defeated Richwood North Union 43-0 in the other Region 14 semifinal played at Ohio Wesleyan University.
The site of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown will be announced by the OHSAA on Sunday.
“Our kids were excited before the game. They were fired up, the intensity was there,” said O-G coach Ken Schriner. “On the other side, we were relaxed. This is a great venue, the kids like it here, and I think they just wanted to go out and play a great football game.”
The Titans did just that, limiting Genoa’s all-state running back Kyle Nutter, who entered the game with 2,250 yards this season and 5,758 yards and 86 touchdowns in his career, to 68 yards on 20 carries.
Genoa earned its 10-0 regular season record by averaging 387.7 yards a game on the ground. Against O-G, the Comets had 94, and 160 yards total offense.
“Ottawa-Glandorf is as good as advertised,” Genoa coach Tim Spiess said after the Comets, ranked fifth in the final poll, ended the season 11-1.
“They dictated the tempo. They were faster and more physical than we were, and that’s the first time that’s happened to us,” Spiess said. “The only team I can compare them to is the 2008 Kettering Alter team we faced here in the Final Four. That team had five Division I (college) recruits. But I’ll tell you, the kids we saw tonight are probably technically more sound, faster and more physical. And they’re better team players.”
Genoa’s wing-T offense had gotten the better of O-G twice before, once in the 2008 regional final and again in a 2010 first-round game.
Friday, the Titans were more than ready.
“We’ve struggled against the wing-T in the past but this week we focused really hard on it, we repped it in practice and our scout team gave us a great look,” said Wyatt Karhoff, a two-way lineman for the Titans. “People were flying to the ball. It was about staying disciplined, staying on the line, not rushing up field and not getting behind blockers.
“Tonight was all about running to the ball and making tackles.”
Karhoff had a sack, two other tackles for losses and blocked a PAT kick. Kyle Niese (1 sack) had 14 tackles, Russell Ellerbrock had 13, Matt Samuelson nine, including a sack, and Siefker and Tristan Parker seven each. But it was Karhoff who left the most indelible image on Spiess.
“Their noseguard, No. 51 (Karhoff), is probably the best defensive lineman we’ve gone against since I’ve been at Genoa,” Spiess said. “He caused us all kinds of problems.”
“Our defense played really well up front,” Schriner said. “Our guys were shutting them down, they were filling where they needed to fill, they were playing smash-mouth football, which is what we try to do.”
“Their guy (Nutter) has been a stud, a stalwart for them for years. After that first series, our guys came over with their eyes real wide and said, ‘Wow, they are quick off the ball.’
“They are quick and physical and we knew that coming in. We challenged our kids and I was proud of how our kids accepted that challenge.”
Powerful running attacks are the trademark of both teams and Ottawa-Glandorf got to showcase its first, taking the opening kickoff and driving 66 yards in eight plays. With Genoa keying its defense on Tristan Parker, who entered the game with 1,754 yards and 24 TDs rushing, O-G got two nice gains from fullback Brad Racer and an 11-yard pass by Siefker to soften things up. Parker then burst 27 yards to the Genoa 11, and covered the remaining distance on the next play.
Genoa then had its turn. But O-G’s defense held, and when sophomore punter Cody Pickard couldn’t handle a low snap, Karhoff came flying in and leveled him at the Comets’ 40.
With Genoa biting on play fakes to Parker, Siefker kept the ball and covered all 40 yards on four carries, the last a 14-yard burst off right tackle.
Siefker, who accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) in a 72-0 semifinal win over Lorain Clearview, accounted for another four scores Friday, adding two 1-yard quarterback sneaks to his 18-yard score following Genoa’s turnover on downs.
Siefker had 106 yards on 14 carries and was 4 of 6 passing for 52 yards. Parker churned out 126 yards and Racer had 75, including a 39-yard TD burst in the fourth quarter.
Genoa got on the board early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard pass from Kyle Edwards to Zach Roberts. Nutter capped his outstanding career with a 2-yard TD run late in the game.
Genoa 0 0 0 12 — 12
Ottawa-Glandorf 14 20 0 7 — 41
O-G — Parker 11 run (Siefker kick)
O-G — Siefker 14 run (Siefker kick)
O-G — Siefker 18 run (Siefker kick)
O-G — Siefker 1 run (Siefker kick)
O-G — Siefker 1 run (kick blocked)
GEN — Roberts 3 pass from Edwards (run failed)
O-G — Racer 39 run (Siefker kick)
GEN — Nutter 2 run (kick failed)
First Downs 11 17
Rushes-yards 39-94 39-298
Passing Yards 66 52
Comp-Att-Int 6-13-0 4-6-1
Punts-Avg. 4-34 3-36
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-16 2-25
rushing — Genoa, K. Nutter 20-65, Espinoza 8-31, D. Nutter 4-18, Wolfe 1-12. Ottawa-Glandorf Parker 15-117, Siefker 14-106, Racer 7-75, Drerup 1-1.
passing — Genoa, Edwards 6-13-0-66. Ottawa-Glandorf, Siefker 4-6-1-52.
receiving — Genoa, Gose 2-15, Spiess 1-35, D. Nutter 1-12, Roberts 1-3. Ottawa-Glandorf, Leopold 2-27, Drerup 2-25.