By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald writer
ADA - Opportunistic Ada took advantage of costly Delphos Jefferson miscues and the unsung Bulldog defense posted its third shutout to earn a rain-soaked 17-0 Northwest Conference victory on a cold, wet Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.Their fifth straight win over DJ improved the Bulldog record to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the NWC, setting up a showdown for the league title with rival LCC next Friday. Jefferson fell to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the NWC with the loss.
Ada senior quarterback Mason Acheson enjoyed another fine passing night despite the difficult elements, completing 19 of 30 tosses for 273 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
The game was played in a steady light rain during the first half. In half two, the rain stopped but the temperature dropped as the wind picked up. Jefferson repeatedly hurt itself with costly penalties at crucial times, and the Bulldogs capitalized.
As they have in all but one game this year, Ada scored first on its second possession. Senior Micah Roberson made a spectacular leaping one-handed interception at midfield to set up the initial score.
Jacob Ansley snared a 14-yard pass on the next play. A 12-yard Acheson aerial and two runs netting nine yards by Kellen Decker got Ada to first and goal at the Delphos 10.
After a one-yard loss, Acheson lofted a swing pass to the left to Decker, who made the first defender miss, then cut back on the wet turf and eluded another would-be tackler on his way to an impressive 11-yard touchdown.
Hunter Waller's point after kick made it 7-0 Bulldogs with 6:18 to go in the first period.
The Ada defense stuffed Jefferson and forced a punt, taking over at their own 35. Two plays later, Ansley hauled in a pass along the sidelines for a 25-yard gain.
However, after a sack Acheson was forced into a fourth and 14 situation. He rolled right and under great pressure lobbed a pass that was intercepted near the goal line, and Jefferson returned it all the way to the Bulldog 40.
But a pair of penalties negated the fine return, so DJ had to start instead pinned back at its own 10. Austin Jettinghoff completed a 61-yard pass to Tyler Mox, and only the hustle of the speedy Roberson saved a touchdown.
Three Zavier Buzard runs netted nine yards to set up a crucial fourth and one situation at the Ada 10. But DJ was called for a false start, making it fourth and six. Then they fumbled the snap on fourth down and Matt Wilcox stuffed the broken play for a loss of two and a turnover on downs.
Roberson got Ada out of a hole immediately with a diving catch of an Acheson spiral for a gain of 39 yards past midfield. Wilcox pulled down another fine pass for a gain of 18 yards.
A tackle for loss by Wildcat standout freshman Dalton Hicks and an Ada penalty, followed by two sacks, forced fourth and 39 and a punt. Again the staunch Bulldog defense rose up and forced a three and out series, capped by a 42-yard punt.
Ada went out quickly and DJ took over at its own 24 with just under two minutes left in the first half. Two fine scrambles by the quick Jettinghoff netted 27 yards. Then on fourth and one, the Wildcat QB ran for seven yards to keep the chains moving.
After two incompletions, Jettinghoff completed a long pass down to the Ada 11, but time expired on the play and the purple and gold held onto a 7-0 lead going into intermission.
Delphos punted on fourth and two to start the third stanza. Ada took over at its 25 and marched methodically downfield. Ansley caught a 13-yard screen pass, followed by a reception by Roberson for a dozen yards.
After a holding call, Acheson scrambled 17 yards to set up fourth and four. On the ensuing play, the Wildcats hurt themselves with another critical flag. Acheson was flushed out of the pocket and his sideline toss fell incomplete, but pass interference gave the hosts 15 yards and first down at the Wildcat 28.
Given new life, Decker ran for six yards. On the next play, Roberson caught a screen to the right, made a nice fake then cut back and sped to the end zone for the game's second and last touchdown.
Waller's second PAT built the lead to 14-0 with 6:44 to go in the period, capping a 75-yard, 2:55 scoring drive.
Buzard gained 23 yards on three runs to start the next Delphos drive, but a false start and three incompletions stalled the drive as Ada took possession at its 11.
On third and two, the elusive Decker ran right for 17 big yards to keep the drive alive. But on fourth and seven Ada elected to punt and Ansley got off a 40-yard roller with no return.
DJ started a must-score possession at its own 16 with 2:44 to go in the third quarter. A holding call put them in a hole, but Jettinghoff completed an 18-yard pass. Buzard then ripped off a 23-yard scamper as the period ended.
A diving catch earned the Wildcats another first down, and Buzard scurried for six and 11 yards to reach the Ada 18. On third and four, a Jettinghoff toss to the back of the end zone sailed behind the Ada defense but the Wildcat receiver dropped the ball.
On fourth and four at the 12, yet another false start made the Wildcat task much harder. On fourth and nine from the 17, Jettinghoff tried to scramble through a hole, but slipped and fell on the muddy field to end their last good scoring chance.
Ada put the game out of reach with a long drive that ate up 5:28 of clock. Three hard-nosed Decker runs gained a total of 25 yards. Wilcox then pulled down a fine sideline pass for a gain of 30 big yards.
Two plays later, Wilcox made an excellent lunging 29-yard reception despite double coverage at the DJ one. Two fumbles on the wet field moved Ada back however, and Waller converted a 20-yard field goal with 3:41 remaining to build the cushion to 17-0.
The successful kick made it a three-score margin and all but sealed the outcome. Decker put the finishing touches on the shutout when he picked off a long Jettinghoff pass with a fine over-the-shoulder grab.
Frustrated DJ was unable to get the ball back because on fourth and 14, they roughed punter Ansley to give Ada 15 yards and a first down in a misplay that symbolized their self-inflicted struggles.
The hosts then ran out the clock, highlighted by a 24-yard scamper by Decker that he almost broke for six down the slippery sideline.
Decker netted 83 yards unofficially on 20 carries, and caught one TD pass. He now has netted 1,444 yards rushing this season. Acheson has completed 135 of 206 passes (65.5 percent) for 2,472 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Roberson snared seven passes for 99 yards and one 22-yard TD. He now has 41 receptions for 696 yards.
Ada has outscored its opposition 369-89 this season. The 17 points was their low single-game output of the season. Bulldog coach Mike Fell improved to 68-16 in his seventh campaign at Ada.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 7 0 7 3 17
DJ 0 0 0 0 0
Ada hosts LCC in title tilt showdown
ADA - The much-anticipated, annual week 10 Northwest Conference Ada/ Lima Central Catholic showdown is almost here, with the title on the line once more.
On Friday, Oct. 26 the Northwest Conference championship will be decided again in the regular season finale between unbeaten rivals Ada and LCC. Both highly-ranked teams come into the last game with unblemished 9-0 overall marks and perfect 7-0 NWC records.
All six previous years the Thunderbirds have been in the league, either the Bulldogs or LCC have won the title, and the seventh season will be no exception. The T-Birds took the championship in 2006-07, followed by consecutive Ada undefeated crowns in 2008-09. LCC has since won the last two titles. In each regular season finale the championship has been decided one way or the other, with five of those titles going to the victor.
Ada is ranked third in the latest AP Div. VI state poll, while LCC is rated third in Div. V. This is the third time the two foes have gone into the last game with both squads undefeated. Adding to the drama is the fact that it will be LCC's last regular season game as a member of the NWC. They will be leaving the conference after the 2012-13 school year.
LCC whipped Allen East 51-0 in its penultimate game Friday. Ada defeated the rival Mustangs 42-14 in week eight.
Kick-off for the showdown is set for 7:30 p.m.