TONTOGANY — In the renewal of a long ago cross-river rivalry between Grand Rapids and Liberty Center, Otsego lost 9-0 at home against visiting the LC Tigers Friday.
Both teams came into the match with undefeated 2-0 records, and the rowdy stands at “the Castle” in Tontogany cheered on their Knights before they begin play to defend their Northern Buckeye Conference championship.
It was a defensive battle, but in the end, the Tigers’ offense would just have a little bit more of an advantage to leave ‘the Castle’ victorious.
Liberty Center had 311 total yards to Otsego’s 121, and the Tigers had 16 first downs to the Knights’ seven.
LC quarterback Zane Zeiter completed 6-of-15 passes for 86 yards, including three to Riley Chappa for 65 yards and three to Colton Chambers for 21 yards.
On the ground for the Tigers, Matthew Orr ran for 78 yards on 14 carries, Zeiter ran for 75 yards on 11 carries, and Colton Kruse ran for 45 yards on 11 carries.
For Otsego, quarterback Devin Farley completed 16-of-25 passes for 91 yards, including seven to Jack Simpson for 74 yards and two to Blake Steele for 13 yards. Steele also ran for 28 yards on nine carries.
The Tigers dominated the field for the first half of the first quarter. The offense was pushing, and Otsego’s defense just could not retaliate.
Eventually, LC would capitalize on their efforts as Zeiter would throw 21 yards to Chapa to put them on the board with 8:13 remaining in the first quarter.
The Knights would prevent the extra point as they smothered the conversion kick from freshman Jack Zeiter, and LC led by just 6-0. The Tigers would never find the end zone again, but neither would Otsego.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Otsego became more aggressive, forcing a key turnover but just could not gain the offensive yardage they needed to reach the red zone and get the scoring opportunities needed.
Otsego defensive back Owen Atkinson would intercept a Zeiter pass, offering a glimmer of hope that they would translate the Tigers’ mistakes into points.
Steele recovered a fumble at the Tigers’ 30-yard line, but once again the suffocating Tigers’ defense would not allow any scoring chances.
At the end of the first half, the Knights would get a break as Liberty Center would miss a touchdown pass in the end zone.
The third quarter was competitive, yet neither team was able to garner much to gain any offensive momentum.
Contradicting a fast-paced first half, players from both teams seemed to lose steam offensively as the scoreboard still read 6-0 well into the second half.
LC would just have a little more luck in the closest moments. With just over two minutes left in the game, LC kicker Max Walker converted on a 25-yard field goal, sealing the deal by giving the Tigers a two-possession lead.
LC remains undefeated with a 3-0 record, and Otsego suffers their first loss of the season.
LC coach Casey Mohler complimented the battle that Otsego gave his team.
“When you beat a program as good as Otsego, it’s a pretty good measure for us,” Mohler said.
Defensively for Otsego, Farley had six solo tackles and an assist, Clay Battin had five tackles and two assists, and Lee Borders had five tackles, an assist, and two tackles for a loss.
Otsego will open NBC action against Lake at the Castle Friday.