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May 26, 2020

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Bulldogs blank Pirates, win share of league crown 

Speedy Tyson Shutler led the Pirates with 114 yards rushing on 10 carries

By Cort Reynolds
COLUMBUS GROVE - The visiting Bluffton football team lost at  league co-champion Columbus Grove 49-0 in the Northwest Conference and regular season finale on a cold Friday night.

Strong-armed CG junior quarterback Blake Reynolds passed for six touchdowns, four to wideout Alex Schneider, to pace the Bulldog offense to victory.

Grove scored 14 points in each of the first three periods to win going away. The tough CG defense posted its second straight shutout and gave up just 80 points in seven league contests.

The Bulldogs clinched a three-way share of the NWC title for the second straight year with their sixth consecutive victory. CG finished 6-1 in league play (7-3 overall) to tie with Spencerville and Allen East for the NWC championship. 

But the Bulldogs narrowly missed the playoffs in tough Region 23, as did the 7-3 Bearcats. The lone Grove loss came to AE 14-11 in the league opener. The Mustangs (9-1) are the only NWC team to make the post-season. 

The Pirates finished 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the NWC with the defeat. After a 3-1 start to the season, Bluffton lost five of its final six contests.

Grove receiver Gabe Clement started the scoring vs. Bluffton on a 78-yard strike from Reynolds just 1:50 into the game. Rece Verhoff booted the first of his seven straight successful extra point kicks to make it 7-0.

CG back Colin Metzger scored the game's only running touchdown on a seven-yard rush with 4:28 left in the first period to put the hosts ahead 14-0.

Just 10 seconds into the second quarter, Schneider scored on a 28-yard aerial from Reynolds to build the lead to 21-0.

Then with just 16 seconds remaining in the first half, Schneider scored again on a 55-yard toss from Reynolds as Grove built a  28-0 intermission cushion.

Schneider kept it up with a 30-yard TD pass from Reynolds a mere 46 seconds into the second half. Schneider caught the long aerial near the left front corner of the end zone with his back to the goal line, and he fell backward across the plane to make it 35-0.    

Clement snared his second scoring reception via Reynolds from 13 yards out as time expired in the third period to extend the margin to 42-0.

Schneider added his fourth and final TD on a five-yard pass from Reynolds with 10:45 remaining to play. Verhoff's last PAT kick provided the final score of 49-0.

    1    2    3    4    F
Blf    0    0    0    0    0
CG    14    14    14    7    49

NWC, Region 23 notes
Bluffton finished sixth in the eight-team league standings, ahead of Ada (1-6) and Delphos Jefferson (0-7), the only two conference teams they defeated.

Crestview ended up fourth (4-3) in the NWC, with Paulding fifth (3-4).

Spencerville finished 10th in the Div. VI, Region 23 computer rankings. Despite beating the Bearcats, Grove came in right behind them in 11th place in the ratings. 

Meanwhile, AE made the eight-team field by finishing seventh in the same region, where seven teams went 9-1 and 10-0 Gibsonburg missed the playoffs by coming in ninth.

Bluffton ended up 20th in Region 23.

Game notes and stats
Both teams compiled 15 first downs. Bluffton amassed 204 yards in total offense on 64 plays (3.2 average per play). Grove rolled up 409 yards on just 33 plays (12.4). 

Bluffton rushed for 196 net yards on 49 carries (4.0 avg.). The Bulldogs ran for 124 yards on just 14 rushes (8.9 avg.).

The accurate Reynolds completed 13 of 19 aerials for 285 yards and six TDs.

Speedy Tyson Shutler led the Pirates with 114 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Senior fullback Tucker Neff netted 84 yards rushing on 24 carries in his final game. 

Pirate quarterback Nate Schaadt completed six of 13 passes for 23 yards. Neff completed his only pass for five yards, while Shutler was 0-1 throwing.

Shutler caught four passes for 19 yards. Schaadt hauled in one pass from Neff for five yards. Neff and Nick Prater each added one grab.

Grove committed one turnover while Bluffton fumbled the ball away three times and tossed one interception.

The Pirates lost 15 yards on two penalties. The Bulldogs were penalized just one time for five yards.

Bluffton finished 2-3 on the road with the defeat.