TIFFIN – Swanton got a pair of punt blocks and also took advantage of some short fields in the first half to race out to a 35-0 halftime lead at Tiffin Calvert on the gridiron Saturday night. Each team scored a touchdown after the break as the Bulldogs rolled to a 42-7 win to move to 2-0 on the season.
“I can’t remember a game that we’ve played in a long time that the tone was set more by the special teams units,” said Bulldog mentor Mike Vicars after the game. “Between those blocked punts (and) our kickoff coverage. That’s a long field in high school football to go eighty yards. And every time we got the ball it seemed we were (at the 30 yardline) and in.”
An errant punt by Calvert helped Swanton begin their first drive inside Seneca territory at the 25 at the 9:32 mark of the opening quarter. After Jordon Nyler picked up a fourth-and-one on a run to the Calvert eight yardline, quarterback Bryce McComb scored on a scramble on the next play to put Swanton ahead, 7-0.
The Senecas then went three-and-out and on the ensuing punt, Swanton’s JD Reisinger got a hand on it and the Bulldogs would start their possession on the Calvert 16. A 23 yard pass completion from McComb to Robbie Gilsdorf and four yard gain by tailback Cameron Hitchen helped set up a three yard TD run by Nyler on first-and-goal to make it 14-0 with 6:16 left in the first.
Calvert, looking to gain some ground in the battle of field position, elected to punt on a fourth and four at the Swanton 43. However, the decision backfired when Jonny Shanks blocked the punt and the Bulldogs took over on the Senecas’ half of the field.
“We felt like their times with getting the ball off was pretty slow,” said Vicars of Calvert’s punt team. “We are not a big punt blocking team, but we felt like that was something we could possibly take advantage of.”
On first-and-10 at the Calvert 45, McComb rolled to his left and connected with Gunnar Oakes who elluded a few Calvert defenders before reaching the end zone to widen the margin at 21-0.
The Bulldogs added a fourth score in the opening period with only seven seconds remaining. Setting up the opportunity was a 27 yard first down scramble for McComb, then a four yard run by Shanks.
The TD came by way of a 20 yard pass to Oakes on a fade route, pushing the Bulldog advantage to 28 points.
“I thought that Bryce threw him a great ball, but he (Oakes) did have a monster night,” stated Vicars. “Gunnar is a special player. He is a 6’4” kid, and it is great he is just a junior.”
Calvert marched into Swanton territory on the very next possession but a holding penalty set them back at third-and-17 from the Bulldog 42. Drew Ritzler’s pass to Joey Krajewski fell incomplete and the Senecas were forced to punt.
Then came Oakes’ third TD of the contest, as he took the punt up the right sideline 95 yard for a score to make it a 35-0 lead at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter.
With the OHSAA running clock rule in effect after the break, the Bulldogs didn’t tack on their final score of the game until there were under two minutes remaining in the third.
It was McComb who fired a bullet to Gilsdorf from 20 yards out, his third TD pass on the night. He finished the game hitting 6 of 12 passes for 134 yards and three TDs to only one interception.
The lone score for the Senecas came in the fourth quarter when Swanton’s reserves were in. A bad pitch by the new Bulldog QB was picked up Krajewski who ran it in for an eight yard score to meet the game’s final tally.
Nyler, who was making his first appearance in a game since having a torn meniscus repaired just weeks before the start of the season, carried the ball six times for 32 yards and a TD.
However, he appeared to suffer an injury to his other leg just before the half. Coach Vicars said after the game that his status for this week’s contest is unclear.
Oakes caught four balls for 90 yards and a pair of TDs while Gilsdorf had two catches for 44 yards and a score. Also, the Bulldog defense was up to the challenge of facing the up-tempo Seneca offense as they held them to just 154 total yards, including -26 through the air.
Swanton will next host Woodmore (1-1) on Friday before opening NWOAL play at Archbold on Sept. 18.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010