Ottawa Hills scored 21 unanswered points to defeat Swanton 24-13 in the Bulldogs’ home opener Friday at Hansbarger Stadium.
Swanton built a 13-3 first half lead, but was kept out of the end zone the rest of the way.
The Ottawa Hills ground game powered them to victory. The Bulldog defense had no answer for the Green Bears’ Blake Gnepper, who rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
Swanton started the game by recovering an onside kick. But, on the Green Bear 11 yard line, a fumble ended the drive.
The Bulldogs forced a three and out and a bad punt gave them the ball at the Green Bear 7. On the first play, Nate Vance, who later left the game with an injury, found the end zone and Swanton led 6-0.
That’s when Ottawa Hills began to grind out yards on the ground. A 13-play drive was capped by a field goal, cutting the Swanton lead to 6-3.
The Bulldogs did respond. Drake Harris hit Kayden Davis on a short pass, and Davis did the rest, racing 57 yards for a Swanton touchdown. The extra point by Ethan Hensley was good, and the Bulldogs led 13-3 with 11:47 left in the second quarter.
The Bears kept pounding the ball on the next possession. This time, a six-yard touchdown run by Gnepper capped the drive and cut the deficit to 13-10.
It was more of the same on the first Ottawa Hills possession of the second half. Gnepper scored from 24 yards out to cap a 14-play drive and give the Green Bears their first lead of the game, 17-13.
A 40-yard run by Harris on the next possession gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Ottawa Hills 36. But on fourth and eight, an inside screen to Davis was stopped short of the first down.
Little by little, the Green Bears drove into Swanton territory. Gnepper put an exclamation point on the drive and game with his third touchdown, resulting in a 24-13 lead.
Swanton falls to 0-2, while Ottawa Hills is now 1-1.
The Bulldogs return to action Friday when they host Rogers.