WAPAKONETA – The Versailles Tigers were held scoreless through the first quarter against the Columbus Grove Bulldogs but they did not panic. Facing a 7-0 deficit, the Tigers exploded for 23 unanswered points to take a 23-7 halftime lead and ultimately a 30-13 victory.
“When you’re playing great teams, their going to make great plays.” Versailles coach Ryan Jones said “Columbus Grove is a heck of a football team. We knew they were going to make plays.”
The win punched the Tigers’ ticket to Canton and a showdown with Kirtland who defeated Sugarcreek Garaway 17-0. Versailles defeated Kirtland 2021 by a 20-16 score to the State Championship and ending Kirtland’s 55-game win streak.
The Friday night playoff game started with the Tigers throwing an interception the Bulldogs returned to the Versailles four-yard line. On the following three plays the Tigers’ defense held for no yards, but on fourth down the Bulldogs’ Trent Barraza took it around the left end for a touchdown.
The Tigers leaned on its run game and drove to the Columbus Grove 10-yard line before settling for a field goal. The Bulldogs fumbled Versailles kickoff with the Tigers recovering at the seven. Michael “Crazy Legs” Osborne scored from the one and the Tigers took a 10-7 lead they would not relinquish.
Columbus Grove appeared to throw an interception but A.J. Griesdorn was called out of bounds on the catch. That didn’t matter as the Bulldog punt was shanked and only traveled 9 yards to the Bulldog 46-yard line. Joel Gehret would score his first of two Versailles touchdowns on the night from one yard out upping the Tigers’ lead to 17-7 with 6:54 remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs feeling the game slipping away went for it twice on fourth down but would be intercepted on the second attempt by Griesdorn.
Just like the previous week, Versailles drove 71 yards scoring on a 24-yard pass from Osborne to Jace Watren with 0:13 left in the opening half. The extra point was blocked but the Tigers had a 33-7 lead.
Columbus Grove did not roll over taking the second-half kickoff and going 65 yards scoring on a four-yard touchdown run that used nearly half the time on the third-quarter clock. Down 23-13 the Bulldogs went for a two-point conversion attempt but the pass fell incomplete.
Versailles slammed the door shut with 11:55 left in the game with a two-yard Joel Gehret touchdown run. With a 30-13 advantage, it was just a matter of running the clock down to zero. The Bulldogs would be intercepted on its next two possessions. The first interception by Osborne and the second by “Night Train” Lane Bergman to end any threat.
“Defense did a great job all night,” Coach Jones said. “Really happy for the guys, for them to win this game. I’m really proud of them.”