DELPHOS — Versailles was feeling pretty good about its slant play over the middle.
So, on a key fourth-down play in the final two minutes, the Tigers went back to its pet slant.
Versailles converted that play and posted a 25-14 victory Saturday afternoon against Delphos St. John’s at Stadium Park.
St. John’s led 14-12 at the half, but Versailles outscored the Blue Jays 13-0 in the second half.
“They were a tough, physical team,” Versailles coach Ryan Jones said. “But I was really proud our guys found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.’’
The Tigers improve to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in MAC play while St. John’s falls to 1-4 and 0-3, respectively.
Versailles took the lead to stay 18-14 with 8:26 to go on a 36-yard TD run by Landon Henry. The Blue Jays got the ball back and were on the move behind quarterback Brady Parrish.
But when Parrish fired a 20-yard completion to the Versailles 45-yard line, he was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury with seven minutes to play. Parrish wasn’t able to return.
“There was nothing we could do about it,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “If we make plays before that, we don’t have an issue at all.’’
With Parrish out, the Blue Jays turned the ball over on downs at the Versailles 35. The Tigers then reached the St. John’s 35 and it was fourth-and-10.
That’s when Tigers quarterback Ryan Martin hit Eli McEldowney on a slant for 20, to the Blue Jays’ 15 with 1:55 to go.
“Eli is a really tough kid and he makes big plays for us,” Jones said. … “It (the slant) is a tough play to defend and when teams play man coverage and are aggressive, like they were, you have to make those plays. They did a good job of taking it away on the outside and pressing those receivers, but we were able to get inside a couple of times. Coming across inside is something you have to be able to do.’’
Two plays later, Jack Osborne turned the right side for a 20-yard TD. And with that, Versailles held a 25-14 lead with 57 seconds to go.
For Versailles, Martin completed 11-of-18 for 144 yards. McEldowney had five receptions, most of them on slants, for 79 yards. Michael Stammen had two catches for 49 yards, with an 11-yard TD.
Osborne, a sophomore, led Versailles on the ground with 86 yards on nine carries. Henry, who had only one carry in the first half, had seven carries for 50 yards.
“Henry is more of a power guy who can break some tackles,” Jones said. “He’s been starting for us all year, but Jack (Osborne) gives us a little more speed and more quickness. But he just doesn’t have the experience. … It was a hot day and it helped to get fresh legs in there and rotate those guys.’’
Out of the Blue Jays’ four wide receivers, one-back set, Parrish led the team in rushing with 53 yards on 19 carries. In the air, Parrish completed 7-of-17 for 128 yards. Backup quarterback Brady Kerner came on late and completed 4-of-4 for 62 yards.
Brady Grothaus had four receptions for 68 yards. St. John’s running back Devin Lindeman had eight carries for 44 yards, with a 21-yard TD.
Versailles finished with 179 yards rushing, while St. John’s had 82.
St. John’s led 7-6 after the first quarter and held a 14-12 lead at the half.
Versailles scored the second time it had the ball. The Tigers went 79 yards in 10 plays for the score. The big play came on a 38-yard pass from Martin to Stammen to take the ball to the Blue Jays’ 14.
Two plays later, the same two hooked up with Martin firing an 11-yard TD pass to a diving Stammen in the left corner of the end zone. That gave Versailles a 6-0 lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
Lindeman took pitch to the right side, turned the corner and went 21 yards for a TD. That gave the Blue Jays a 7-6 lead with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.
Versailles got the ball and went 71 yards in seven plays for a second. Martin finished the drive off with a 1-yard TD run on a keeper to give Versailles a 12-7 lead. That came with 9:38 left in the first half.
St. John’s pushed ahead on its next drive. The key was the Blue Jays converted a fourth-and-10 at the Versailles 37. Brady Parrish connected with Jacob Wrasman down the left sideline to reach the 1. Parrish dove over from the 1 to push the Jays on top 14-12 with 5:58 left in the half.
But while Parrish ran for 57 yards in the first half, he was held to a -4 yards on seven carries in the second half.
“Overall, defensively, I thought we did a good job of limiting their big plays,” Jones said.