By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald writer
HARROD - The annual Ada/Allen East backyard grudge game was much more competitive than it has been in recent years Friday, but ultimately the Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth period to beat its traditional Northwest Conference rival 42-14 on a brisk 40-degree night at Goodwin Field.Ada senior quarterback Mason Acheson picked apart the AE defense, throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers while completing 18 of 21 aerials for 349 yards.
Their eighth win in a row over AE win kept the third-ranked Bulldogs in contention for a league title at 6-0 (tied for first with LCC) and 8-0 overall. The Mustangs dropped to 1-7 overall and 1-6 in the NWC with the loss.
The quick-strike Bulldogs scored on all four of their possessions in half one despite having the ball for less than seven minutes. They took the opening kick and raced 70 yards to score in seven plays over 2:03.
Acheson passes of 12 yards to Kellen Decker and 23 yards to Brenden Szippl set up the first score. Acheson then connected with Matt Wilcox on a 17-yard TD strike with 9:49 to go in the first period to grab a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs quickly stuffed AE and forced a punt, taking over at their own 17. Wilcox hauled in a pass over the middle and scampered 33 yards before going out of bounds. Three plays later, Acheson rolled left and lofted a perfect pass to Jake Ansley in stride along the left side of the end zone for a 33-yard TD.
Hunter Waller's second successful point after kick built the lead to 14-0 with 6:23 still to go in the opening period. The 83-yard, seven-play march took just 99 seconds.
AE then embarked on an 82-yard, 16-play scoring march that ate up an astounding 9:17. Hard-slashing junior back Ross Stewart netted much of the yardage with his tough running. A pass interference penalty then helped advance the ball to the Ada four.
On the next play, Stewart rumbled off left tackle for a four-yard TD jaunt to cap the long, time-consuming drive.
Ada responded by marching 78 yards to score just 84 seconds later in seven plays. Acheson ignited the drive when he rolled out and found Micah Roberson with a 39 yard pass. Decker then broke some tackles and rumbled around right end for 23 yards down near the goal line.
On first and goal, Decker scored from a yard out to make it 21-7 with 7:33 to go in the half.
Stewart returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to midfield to give spunky AE good field position. However, the Bulldog defense stiffened and stopped the Mustangs on fourth and eight with an incompletion to take over at their own 38.
The Ada offense capitalized quickly and covered 62 yards in just four plays and 81 seconds. Acheson rolled right and connected with junior Spencer Archer on a big 52-yard pickup. Two Decker runs advanced the ball to the one, and the senior back toted the ball the final yard to paydirt for a 28-7 cushion 3:02 before intermission.
The Mustangs answered with a long drive deep into Ada territory as time wound down. Stewart jump-started the possession with a 50-yard run, with Archer hustling back to make a TD-saving tackle.
AE advanced to the Bulldog 10 after a Stewart first down run moments later. He then gained seven yards up the middle, but a reverse pitch sweep lost three yards and forced a timeout with 31 seconds to go in the half.
Stewart was held to two yards on the next run. On fourth and goal from the six, Casey Crow's pass to the back corner of the end zone was broken up by Wilcox and Roberson to end the half. The big play kept Ada up by 21 going into the break and kept AE from gaining more momentum and confidence.
Stewart netted 107 yards rushing in the first half while the deadly accurate Acheson completed 11 of 13 passes for 210 yards.
The Mustangs took the second half kick and drove methodically downfield on another clock-eating march. Stewart completed a long fourth down run to the Ada 20. But a fumble recovered by the ubiquitous Wilcox thwarted AE's chance to halve the deficit.
The Bulldogs then went for it on fourth and two from their 18 with punter Ansley out following a mild concussion, and the Mustang defense stopped Decker short to take possession at the Bulldog 19.
Early in the fourth period AE converted a fourth and 10 run on a reverse. Two plays later, Evan Thomas scurried into the end zone from five yards out to cut the deficit to 28-14 with 10:46 left in the game.
Ada then took control of the game right back with an 83-yard march to paydirt. Roberson hauled in a key 18-yard third down pass to move the chains. Decker then rambled 34 yards before being knocked out of bounds. Two plays later, Decker took a screen pass and ran 36 yards to the end zone for a 35-14 lead with 9:12 left to play.
AE started their next possession at their own 25 and again put together a long drive. A pass interference call moved the pigskin to the Ada 44. The Mustangs fumbled on a double reverse but recovered their own miscue to keep the drive alive. However, the Bulldog defense held and took over on downs.
Ada quickly scored on a 62-yard drive in just 82 seconds. Roberson capped it hauling in a 52-yard TD pass with 3:26 left to play, and Waller's sixth PAT moved the lead to 42-14.
The last Mustang drive was stopped on fourth and two when they fumbled and Bulldog Chris James recovered at the 35.
Roberson and Wilcox each caught four Acheson tosses for 103 and 54 yards, respectively, with one score apiece. Ansley snared three aerials for 66 yards and one TD before going out in the second period with injury.
Decker rushed for 97 yards and added 59 yards and a score on four receptions.
Mustang workhorse Stewart carried the ball 34 times for 191 yards to pace the AE offense. Thomas contributed 45 yards rushing on 13 carries. Stewart and Thomas each scored a TD.
The purple and gold rolled up 453 total yards, 349 through the air and 104 on the ground, despite limited time of possession. AE totaled 283 yards, 244 of which came on the ground.
Acheson has now completed 116 of 176 passes (65 percent) this season for 2,199 yards, with 25 TDs and nine interceptions. Decker has netted 1,361 yards rushing and Roberson has 34 catches for 597 yards.
Ada has outscored its opposition 352-89 this season. After their eighth win in a row in the heated rivalry, the Bulldogs now trail the all-time series just 26-22. Ada coach Mike Fell is 67-16 in his sevethn season as Bulldog mentor.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 14 14 0 14 42
AE 0 7 0 7 14
Dogs host Cats in key NWC tilt
Ada hosts Delphos Jefferson (6-2, 4-2 NWC) Friday, Oct. 19 in a crucial battle. The Wildcats throttled former NWC foe Perry 47-10 in their Oct. 12 non-league outing.
In league play, Jefferson is coming off a 7-6 conference upset loss to Columbus Grove in week seven that eliminated them from title contention. The dangerous JeffCats sit two games behind unbeaten co-leaders Ada and LCC.
The Bulldogs pulled off a miracle rally late last year in Delphos to stun the Wildcats, and have won the last four meetings.