By JIM METCALFE
DELPHOS - The Delphos-Ada Northwest Conference football game had a little bit of everything: two safeties against Jefferson, lead changes, penalties galore, two touchdowns called back and a late score.
In the end, the visiting Bulldogs had that late score and held off a furious Wildcat try at the end to survive with a 25-20 victory on a chilly October Friday night at Stadium Park.
Ada (7-2, 6-1 NWC) dominated the football for 77 plays (347 yards) to 50 (251 yards) for the previously-unbeaten Wildcats (8-1, 5-1 NWC).
Jefferson had 10 penalties for 106 and Ada seven for 60.
The Wildcats had overcome a very slow start to lead 20-11 with 9:34 left.
Ada's Luke Long-Green took the ensuing kickoff back 69 yards, putting Ada at the Jefferson 17. Despite a 17-yard scoring pass brought back due to a procedure call, the Bulldogs still scored in two plays. At the 25, Matt Wilcox (18-of-34 passing, 197 yards, 3 picks; 21 rushes, 67 yards) - in the traditional Ada shotgun - found Spencer Archer (3 catches, 36 yards) on the left side; the senior pulled out of tacklers at the 10 and dove into the end zone. The 2-pointer failed as the Wildcats now led 20-17 with 8:23 to go.
Tyler Talboom recovered a short kickoff at the Jefferson 38 and a personal foul moved them to the Ada 47. The Wildcats turned to the ground game, led by Zavier Buzard (18 rushes, 118 yards), to move to the 16 in six plays. A Buzard scoring run was called back due a holding penalty and then Archer picked off an Austin Jettinghoff (11-of-23 passing, 173 yards, 2 picks) aerial at the 13 with 4:27 left.
The Bulldogs then went on an agonizing 13-play drive - behind 6-of-9 passing by Wilcox (58 yards) - to take the final lead. At the Jefferson 8, Wilcox found Blake Ansley (7 catches, 46 yards; 18 rushes, 90 yards) at the 5 and the sophomore vaulted into the end zone with 45 ticks left. Wilcox hit Ansley for the 2-pointer and a 25-20 edge.
The Wildcats were not done. Tyler Mox returned the kickoff 18 yards to the 33 and they had 41 seconds left and two timeouts. Jettinghoff went 4-of-5 passing for 48 yards to reach the Bulldog 19. He spiked the ball with three seconds left for one final play. He was forced to scramble and the pass was incomplete to end the game.
"We had a slow start; we overcame that. Our defense bent but didn't break until the end but it was on the field too much," Jefferson coach Bub Lindeman said.
Ada - in its traditional spread offense - took the opening possession at its 28 and drove the length of the field in 13 plays to hit paydirt. At the Jefferson 4, Ansley took a handoff inside right guard and kept churning to the end zone. Austin Dumbaugh added the kick for a 7-0 edge with 7:38 showing in the first.
A turnover on the third play from scrimmage, recovered by Dumbaugh, gave the visitors the ball at the Delphos 47. However, the Wildcat defense forced a 3-and-out, with the Wilcox punt - and a fumble - forcing the Wildcats to start at their own 5.
A 3-and-out and a Jettinghoff 33-yard punt allowed Ada to start at the host 40. The Bulldogs reached the Jefferson 7 in seven plays. However, senior Joe Gorman picked off a screen pass at the 10 to end that threat.
However, a procedure call sent the Wildcats back and a play later from the 5, a bad snap in the shotgun forced Jettinghoff to scramble and he was tackled in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Ada edge with 29 ticks showing in the first.
After the kickoff, the Bulldogs started at midfield and reached the Jefferson 21 in seven plays but on play eight, a 4th-and-2, Ansley was stopped a yard short.
The 'Cats seemed to get into some rhythm on the next drive, moving from the 20 to the 44, but a holding call, a sack and a batted pass forced them to kick it away.
An interception of a Wilcox pass by Trevor Dudgeon and 38-yard return set the hosts in business at the Ada 29. Buzard ran for two, then after a procedure call set them back to the 32, Jettinghoff, in the gun, threw down the right-side numbers to Josh Teman, who made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch at the goalline for the six. Kurt Wollenhaupt made it a 9-7 deficit with 3:17 left in the opening half.
Ada marched from its 32 to the Jefferson 39 but on 4th-and-6, Wilcox was picked off by Mox to effectively end the half.
The Wildcats' Derek Foust recovered the short kickoff at the 38 to start the second half. Jettinghoff hit Ross Thompson for 29 and then Buzard, in the "I" formation, took a sweep around right end and once he found the corner, was gone down the sidelines. Wollenhaupt made it 14-9 with a mere 32 ticks off the second-half clock.
Ada drove from its 36 to the Wildcat 23 - aided by a pass interference call - but on 4th-and-3, Wilcox was pressured into an incompletion.
However, the Wildcats had an offensive pass interference call set them back and Jettinghoff, at the back of the end zone, saw a high punt snap go off his fingertips and out of the end zone for a safety and a 14-11 score with 5:53 showing in the third.
After Jefferson's "D" forced a punt, they put together a 9-play drive from the 19 to the Ada 25 but Jettinghoff, throwing into the end zone, was picked off by Archer.
Wilcox fumbled on the very next play from scrimmage and Dalton Hicks pounced on it at the 23. Buzard then took a pitch off right tackle and showed good power, bulling through tacklers, and driving into the end zone. Wollenhaupt's kick failed as they led 20-11 with 9:34 left.
Jefferson visits archrival Spencerville to finish NWC action Friday, while Ada takes on Lima Central Catholic.
* * *
ADA 25, JEFFERSON 20
Ada 9 0 2 14 - 25
Jefferson 0 7 7 6 - 20
AD - Blake Ansley 4 run (Austin Dumbaugh kick), 7:38
AD - Safety (Austin Jettinghoff tackled in end zone), :29
DJ - Josh Teman 32 pass from Jettinghoff (Kurt Wollenhaupt kick), 3:17
DJ - Zavier Buzard 33 run (Wollenhaupt kick), 11:28
AD - Safety (punt snap out of the end zone), 5:53
DJ - Buzard 23 run (kick failed), 9:34
AD - Ansley 25 pass from Matt Wilcox (pass failed), 8:23
AD - Ansley 8 pass from Wilcox (Ansley pass from Wilcox), :45
First Downs 23 14
Total Yards 347 251
Rushes-Yards 43-150 27-78
Passing Yards 197 173
Comps.-Atts. 18-34 11-23
Intercepted by 2 3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 7-60 10-106
Punts-Aver. 2-28 2-32.5
RUSHING: Blake Ansley 18-90, Matt Wilcox 21-67, Luke Long-Green 2-3, Team 2-(-)10.
PASSING: Wilcox 18-34-197-3-2.
RECEIVING: Ansley 7-46, Spencer Archer 3-55, Austin Dumbaugh 3-36, Hunter Waller 2-30, Grant McBride 2-25, Owen Conley 1-5.
RUSHING: Zavier Buzard 18-118, Jordan McCann 1-52, Tyler Mox 1-0, Team 3-(-)8, Austin Jettinghoff 4-34.
PASSING: Jettinghoff 11-23-173-2-1.
RECEIVING: Buzard 3-38, Ross Thompson 2-42, Mox 2-42, Trevor Dudgeon 2-22, Josh Teman 1-32, Joe Gorman 1-7.