The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

Treece, defense lead Cougars past Bryan

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

BRYAN — Owen Treece passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 112 yards and another score to help Van Wert defeat Bryan 34-13 at Golden Bear Stadium on Friday night.

In addition, Van Wert’s defense held Bryan to just 169 yards of total offense, with 65 yards coming on one play, while the Cougars tallied 333 yards of total offense.

Van Wert linebacker Parker Conrad sacks Bryan quarterback Nate Miller. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

“We’ve been ready for this game for a long time,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement after a solid year last year. This team wants to be known for something and they way they came out and controlled the game was fabulous, and I’m so proud of them.”

Already leading 20-7 to start the third quarter, the Cougars forced Bryan into a three-and-out, then scored two plays later when Treece scrambled from trouble and found a wide open Connor Pratt for a 66 yard touchdown pass. Peyton McAlpine’s PAT gave Van Wert a 27-7 lead with 10:34 left in the period, but the Golden Bears responded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Nate Miller to Connor Arthur to make it 27-13 with 10:22 on the clock.

Van Wert answered with a methodical eight play, 65-yard drive that was capped off by a Treece four yard touchdown run with 7:13 left in the third. The drive included a spectacular 30-yard catch by Tanner Barnhart, who wrestled the ball away from a Golden Bear defender.

“That drive was huge to go up like that because they scored and had that big play and maybe a little bit of momentum,” Recker said. “Owen led us down there and the offensive line and the receivers (blocked) – it was an all-out effort.”

Linebacker TJ Reynolds opened the scoring in the first quarter. After Van Wert’s opening drive stalled, Parker Conrad sacked Miller, then two plays later, Reynolds intercepted a pass and raced untouched 38 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cougars a 6-0 lead at the 8:12 mark.

“That was a big play,” Recker said. “TJ is very good at that outside linebacker spot as far as feeling things out – he kind of felt that route and knew where he needed to get to. There was no quit in him as he went both ways for us tonight.”

Conrad and defensive lineman Keagon Hammons combined for four sacks, including one that ended Bryan’s second drive on fourth down at the Van Wert 30.

“Keagon had a fabulous year last year and now he’s bigger, faster and stronger and when we can get that kind of pressure it makes it so much easier because we can put five or six guys in coverage, so Keagon really helps out our coverage,” Recker explained. “Parker does a great job of running our defense, because he knows where to line up, he adjusts easily, he’s smart and savvy and he made some big tackles tonight.”

Nate Jackson increased Van Wert’s lead to 13-0 with a one yard touchdown run with 3:52 left in the first quarter, but Bryan countered with a one yard scoring run by Noah Tressler at the 11:20 mark of the second quarter.

Owen Treece scrambles for yardage against the Golden Bear defense. Jerry Mason photo

Van Wert then put together an 11 play, 65-yard drive that included a 25 yard run by Treece and a fourth and nine completion from the junior quarterback to Nate Jackson. Two plays later, the two connected on a five yard scoring pass to give the Cougars a 20-7 lead with 7:13 remaining until halftime.

“He does a great job,” Recker said of Treece. “We talked about his toughness, his leadership and all of that came into play tonight by being able to keep plays alive. If he can do that, we’ll be dangerous.”

“Our offensive line stepped up tonight and saw some different looks and did a good job opening some holes,” Recker added.

Van Wert put together a 10 play drive deep into Bryan territory, but turned it over on downs shortly before halftime.

The Cougars lost Jackson (12 carries, 39 yards) to a second half shoulder injury, but Levi Newell stepped in and contributed nine carries for 37 yards.

“Nate’s a very good running back and he did a nice job,” Recker said. “He’s good at avoiding contact and he gets yards that way, and then we brought in Levi after Nate got hurt and he was fresh, so that helped. Levi’s a savvy runner – he’s not going to beat anybody with his speed but he just knows how to avoid contact and get positive yardage.”

Van Wert (1-0) will open Western Buckeye League play at Defiance on Friday.

Scoring summary

First quarter

8:12 – TJ Reynolds 38 yard interception return (Petyon McAlpine kick failed)
3:52 – Nate Jackson 1 yard run (McAlpine kick)

Second quarter

11:20 – Noah Tressler 1 yard run (Adam Fireovid kick)
7:13 – Owen Treece 5 yard pass to Nate Jackson (McAlpine kick)

Third quarter

10:34 – Owen Treece 66 yard pass to Connor Pratt (McAlpine kick)
10:22 – Nate Miller 65 yard pass to Connor Arthur (kick failed)
7:18 – Owen Treece 4 yard run (McAlpine kick)

Individual leaders


Rushing: Nate Miller 14-60; Passing: Miller 10-17-1-1, 111 yards; Receiving: Connor Arthur 6-92-1

Van Wert

Rushing: Owen Treece 22-112-1; Levi Newell 9-37; Nate Jackson 12-39-1; Passing: Treece 13-19-145-2; Receiving: TJ Reynolds 6-24; Jackson 4-20-1; Tanner Barnhart 2-33; Connor Pratt 1-66-1

Owen Treece scores on a four yard touchdown run to extend Van Wert’s lead to 34-13 over Bryan. Video by Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 08/31/19 at 12:45 am. FILED UNDER: Sports