FOOTBALL: Elida rolls into state semis

The party has started in Elida.

It started early in Friday night’s game.

The Bulldogs are headed to the Division III football state semifinals after dominating the Columbus Eastmoor Academy Warriors 37-10.

It was all about the defense as Elida held Eastmoor’s power rushing attack to just 44 yards and sacked quarterback David valdez nine times.

“I thought coming in they would have a tough time scoring on our defense,” Elida varsity coach Jason Carpenter said. “Yes they’re big. But we’re quick and athletic. If we can get off the ball around those big guys, then it was ‘party at the quarterback.’ ”

Elida’s defense produced big plays in the first half as the Bulldogs seized control of the game early.

On Eastmoor’s first play from scrimmage, Valdez fumbled the snap and Elida’s Mitch Knotts recovered at the Warriors’ 20.

After a nifty catch by Austin Etzler gave Elida the ball at the 1, Colin Blymer ran it in for the first score of the game.

The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out, then took advantage of a pair of Eastmoor third-down penalties before Reggie McAdams found Etzler down the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown.

Suddenly the Bulldogs were up 14-0 midway through the first quarter and the Warriors were imploding.

“We knew we wanted to get off to a fast start because with the offense they have, they would have a hard time coming back,” Carpenter said.

Elida kicker Nathan Jenkins added a field late in the quarter to up the lead to 17-0.

The Warriors sacked McAdams in the end zone for a safety, their first score of the game, to make it 17-2.

It looked like that would be the halftime score. But on an Eastmoor third down near midfield, the Elida defense swarmed Valdez and forced yet another fumble, which Knotts scooped up and raced 40 yards untouched for the touchdown, giving Elida a 24-2 lead at the half.

“That was huge,” Carpenter said. “Our defense played lights-out tonight.”

Etzler added another scoring grab, a 20-yard diving catch, to open the second half.

Eastmoor scored its only touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard interception return.

All 10 of Eastmoor’s points came from its defense.

Elida added one more score, a 44-yard touchdown run by Anthony Sumpter with 7:28 left in the game.

Elida will now play Springfield Shawnee in a state semifinal matchup at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Piqua’s Alexander Field.