PERRYSBURG — With the scoring production offensively and the eye-popping statistics from quarterback Gus Dimmerling, one element of Perrysburg’s football team has been left in the shadows.
|Perrysburg's Gus Dimmerling (10) intercepts the ball from Springfield's Tevin Stuart (1) during their game Friday night. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
That is until Friday night.
Although on paper, the numbers were not spectacular, on the field the advantage was evident. The Yellow Jackets’ defense is a force to no longer be overlooked.
Despite giving up the most yards since its game against Toledo Central Catholic in Week 3, Perrysburg’s defense forced timely turnovers, resulting in a 42-19 win over Springfield.
The win guaranteed the ’Jackets, 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the Northern Lakes League, at least a share of the NLL title. Perrysburg has not won a league championship since 2006.
“I would have liked to have stopped a couple of those drives that we didn’t. But those turnovers on defense were huge,” said Perrysburg head coach Matt Kregel.
Springfield (4-5, 2-4) totaled 374 yards as quarterback Scott Seymour was 20-of-46 though the air for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The 374 yards are the most since Perrysburg surrendered 551 yards to Central.
But the defense, highlighted by four interceptions, forced six turnovers, three of which occurred with Springfield driving in the red zone.
“You have to practice those situations where you put your guys in stressful situations, and make them work their way out of it,” Kregel said of the defense’s ability to create turnovers at opportunistic times. “That goes all the way to our conditioning program. We get the kids tired and make them think when they’re tired.”
Perrysburg’s defensive line, back at full strength with JP Newton returning from an ankle injury, was instrumental in keeping Seymour uncomfortable in the pocket.
Dimmerling and Evan Conley capitalized on their interceptions, returning each 96 and 95 yards, respectively, for touchdowns.
Quinn Thomas and Seth Durham also had interceptions, while Durham and Dimmerling added fumble recoveries. Durham leads Wood County with six interceptions.
“We just come out here and play together,” Durham said. “The pressure the (defensive line) gets gives us time to get interceptions like tonight.”
“Our (defensive) line is one of the best in the league, and they take a lot of blocks for us linebackers,” added ’Jacket linebacker/tailback Mark Delas. “We just played our butts off and worked hard, and things are going well for us.”
While the defensive line was effective in disrupting the passing game, it also slowed last year’s NLL leading rusher Elijah Todd.
Todd ran 16 times for 71 yards, while Springfield had 105 yards rushing as a team.
“We’ve got a great mix between an interior that plays their butt off, and really plays the run and some guys who can move and can cover,” Kregel said.
“I cannot say enough about (defensive coordinator) Andy Brungard and the schemes that he puts together,” Kregel added. “He does a great job, and the kids come out and execute.”
Although Perrysburg did not score an offensive touchdown in the second half, its first-half production was stellar.
Dimmerling ran for 165 yards and two scores in the opening half as he totaled 189 yards for the game, while Delas finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns.
The ’Jackets led 7-0 after Dimmerling took a quarterback draw up the middle untouched for 58 yards just 31 seconds into the game. He added a 61-yard rushing score 46 seconds into the second quarter helping Perrysburg to a 28-0 lead at halftime.
“It gets tough when you go up three or four scores and you’re an up-tempo offense. When you have to slow it down it takes a little bit of an edge away from you,” Kregel said of the lack of offensive production in the second half. “It’s a juggling act. You’re planning on winning the game, yet you’re not doing what you do well. We’re best when we’re up-tempo.”
Perrysburg can wrap up the outright championship next Friday with a win at arch-rival Maumee (2-7, 1-5) in the annual Battle for the Ding Dong Bell.
SPRINGFIELD 0 7 6 6 —19
PERRYSBURG 14 14 7 7 —42
P — Dimmerling, 58 run (Freeman kick)
P — Delas, 6 run (Freeman kick)
P — Dimmerling, 61 run (Freeman kick)
P — Delas, 3 run (Freeman kick)
S — Stuart, 4 pass from Seymour (Chamberlain kick)
P — Dimmerling, 96 interception return (Freeman kick)
S — Parker, 21 pass from Seymour (kick blocked)
P — Conley, 95 interception return (Freeman kick)
S — Parker, 14 pass from Seymour (kick blocked)
Category S P
First downs 21 16
By rushing 4 13
By passing 14 3
By penalty 3 0
Total net yards 374 478
Rushing 105 371
Passing 269 107
Attempts 46 13
Completions 20 7
Interceptions 4 0
Punts/average 2/21.5 1/4
Penalties/yards 2/10 7/62
Fumbles/lost 2/2 0/0
RUSHING: (S) Todd, 16-71; Harris, 7-27; Seymour, 8-7. (P) Dimmerling, 14-189; Delas, 18-122; Llewellyn, 12-63; Fleming, 1-(minus 3).
PASSING: (S) Seymour, 20-46-3—269. (P) Dimmerling, 7-13-0—107.
RECEIVING: (S) Parker, 10-156; Bronaugh, 4-78; Gory, 1-13; Harrison, 2-10; Gant, 1-10; Stuart, 2-2. (P) Fleming, 2-40; Kaczinski, 3-33; Patterson, 1-21; Delas, 1-13.