Paw Paw defense holds down Otsego, 27-7

Butch Hindenach •

   OTSEGO - Paw Paw matched up with long-time football rival Otsego last Thursday evening, for the 92nd meeting of the two schools. It was a good start to the season for the Redskins, who came home with a 27-7 victory, their 10th consecutive win over the Bulldogs. Overall, Otsego still holds a 47-41-4 margin in a series that dates all the way back to 1902 when Paw Paw took a 12-6 win at Otsego. But the Redskin program claimed a clean start to the campaign, thanks to a 49-6 victory for Paw Paw’s junior varsity, and a 46-8 win by the red and white freshmen.
   As opening nights often go, neither team had much luck moving the ball and the score still stood 0-0 in the second period. The Bulldogs managed to drive to the Paw Paw 35 yard line, but the Redskin defense rose up and stopped the drive. Then, Redskin senior Peter Frey, all 5’4” and 120 pounds of him, took over the game for several minutes. He carried the ball four times for 53 yards, nearly refusing to be tackled,  and leading a drive that culminated with a two-yard touchdown run by Nate Harden. Frey added the conversion point and the visitors had a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night. 
   Otsego moved the ball again, to the Paw Paw 28 yard line with 3:24 until intermission, but again the ‘Skins stopped the advance, and the ‘Dawgs had to settle for a field goal attempt and failed. 
   When the teams returned to the field after intermission, Redskin quarterback Jacob Matheny took off on a 49-yard keeper, followed by a touchdown run from 15 yards out to make the score 13-0. With backs alternating in and out of the game, Isaac Mayfield had a 30-yard run around end, and late in the third quarter, David Marshall slipped into the end zone from the three. Junior Mason Popp added a two point conversion run, and Paw Paw seemed to have the game well in hand, 21-0.
   Host Otsego began to connect with its passing game early in the final quarter and finally broke  over the goal line from 33 yards out with 11:41 left to play. With the Redskins unable to move the ball, the Bulldogs again took to the air and appeared about to make a game out of it in the final minutes, but once again the defense of Coach Matt Stephens was up to the task, ending the drive on their 10 yard line. 
   In the final minutes Paw Paw moved to the Otsego 49, and Kurtis Carr put the game out of reach with a 49-yard streak to the end zone, outrunning most of the Bulldog defense. 
   Paw Paw ended the night with 337 yards on the ground including five runs of over 30 yards by five different runningbacks.  Quarterbacks Matheny and Popp went to the air only four times with tight end Karsen Barnhart pulling in two passes for 26 yards.  Barnhart also left a lasting impression on the Bulldogs’ quarterback in the final minutes with a huge hit just after he had thrown the ball.
   Matheny was the leading Redskins rusher with 74 yards, followed closely by Frey with 73, Carr 61, Nolan Beck 50, Mayfield 32, and Marshall 23.  Beck and Andrew Vorce were the leading tacklers, with five solos apiece. 
   Leading the defensive effort that held Otsego to 137 total yards were Beck, Frey, Carr, and Marshall.
   Paw Paw’s defense was clearly the highlight of the opening game. The offense showed an averaging seven yards per attempt. 


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The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
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