Co-FRC Champs

Will Johnson

Defense wins championships.

That saying came true Friday night for Dale Long’s Owensville Dutchmen football team in the fourth quarter of their 42-28 victory over the St. Clair Bulldogs.

“St. Clair made us earn it tonight,” Long said,” They’ve got a couple of good hard runners and coach (Brian) Robbins does a great job with them.”

Early in the game, offense was hard to come by between the Dutchmen and Bulldogs.

In spite of a fumble on the opening kickoff by Owensville special teams, the defense returned the favor four plays into St. Clair’s first possession on offense.

Driving to the Dutchmen 18, the Bulldog offense stalled when OHS senior Colton Moore forced a fumble that teammate Sebastian Dixon recovered.

Sparked by a Tanner Rector 34-yard run and a 39-yard pass play from Ellis to Dustin Faragher, Owensville suddenly found themselves deep in St. Clair territory at the Bulldog 12-yard line.

Turning the ball over on downs, the Dutchmen defense responded by forcing St. Clair’s offense into a three-and-out.

Two plays into their next drive, Long’s Dutchmen hit a home run ball of sorts.

Ellis connected with fellow senior Sean Irwin on a 72-yard touchdown pass at the 5:06 mark of the first quarter. Owensville led 6-0 after River West-Derby’s missed extra point.

Keeping the ball on the ground, St. Clair needed just six plays to answer OHS’ score.

Marcus Kirk got the Bulldogs on the board with a 50-yard TD run at the 1:46 mark of the opening period. Grant Steever broke up the ensuing two-point pass attempt keeping the game tied at 6-6.

Ending the first 12 minutes tied at 6-6, Owensville drove all the way to the St. Clair 9-yard line before two incomplete passes led to another turnover on downs.

Continuing to rely on the running game, the Bulldogs retook the lead when Josh Richards scored from a yard out with 4:23 for the first half. Kirk’s two-point run left the Dutchmen trailing 14-6.

On the opening play of Owensville’s next drive, Ellis hooked up with Irwin on a 34-yard completion putting the Dutchmen quickly back in St. Clair territory. Irwin finished with three catches for 146 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Helped by a pair of Bulldog penalties, Ellis capped the eight-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run at the 2:08 mark of the second quarter. OHS trailed 14-12 after the missed two-point pass.

“I have to give it to my line tonight and to Sean Irwin,” Ellis said. “I threw the ball to him and he came down with it every time.”

Going into halftime trailing 14-12, Owensville had to kick off to start the second half when St. Clair won the opening coin toss.

Seven Bulldog running plays led to another Richards score from three yards out. OHS now trailed 20-12 after the missed two-point conversion attempt with 8:41 for the third quarter.

Owensville’s very next play from scrimmage produced an answer.

Rector found a hole and broke it 52 yards for a touchdown just 14 seconds after St. Clair’s latest score. Dustin Faragher’s run for two points tied the game at 20-20. Rector ran for 125 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.

St. Clair quickly answered against when Richards found the end zone for the third time from 23 yards away. After Kirk’s latest two-point run, the Dutchmen trailed the Bulldogs 28-20 with 6:20 for the third quarter.

Three plays into Owensville’s next drive, Ellis and Irwin connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass nearly a minute later. Ellis pass to Rector for two points knotted the game at 28-28.

“I knew I was fast enough to beat my man off the ball,” Irwin said. “Wyatt (Ellis) was throwing dots all night.”

Deadlocked at 28-28 after three quarters, the Dutchmen and Bulldogs had one more quarter to decide who would earn a share of the Four Rivers Conference (FRC) title.

After St. Clair had the go-ahead touchdown wiped away on a holding penalty, the Dutchmen defense forced the Bulldogs into a turnover-on-downs with 4:48 left.

Needing just over two minutes, OHS traveled 74 yards in six plays capped by a Ellis to Steever 26-yard TD pass. Ellis’ ensuing two-point run with 2:36 left gave the Dutchmen a 36-28 lead.

Turning St. Clair away on four straight pass plays, Owensville needed just one play to put the game out of reach.

Ellis won a race to the left side of the end zone for a 21-yard TD run. In spite of the missed two-point conversion, OHS led 42-28 with 2:04 remaining. Ellis finished with 142 yards rushing on 18 carries and two scores. He also threw for 232 yards on 7-16 passing and three more scores.

“It came down to a couple of plays against a heck of a football team in Owensville,” St. Clair head football coach Brian Robbins said.

After Dustin Faragher tipped a pass ending the previous Bulldog drive, the Dutchmen senior came up with an interception on the final play of the game.

John Reed led the OHS defense with 15 total tackles.