In one of the best games that took place in Northwest Ohio Friday night, Wauseon got the better of Tinora at Harmon Field, 28-14.
The Rams, it seemed, knew they were beat as although they did execute a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, they used up most of the clock in doing so. They also elected to not use any of their three timeouts.
“I thought our guys came out and played with the tenacity that we were looking for. They rose to the challenge,” said Wauseon coach Travis Cooper on the win.
Wauseon scored first with 3:28 left in the first quarter. The drive was sparked by a 45 yard gash up the middle by Wauseon’s Brendan Wilson on a third-and-21 from their own 47.
Two plays later, after carrying down to the two yard line on first and goal, quarterback JJ Kauffman followed his blockers into the end zone to put the Indians ahead, 7-0.
Wauseon’s next scoring drive came after Tinora went three-and-out. On a drive that carried into the second quarter, a pair of fourth down completions by Kauffman highlighted the drive.
The first was a fourth-and-five at the Tinora 38 where the senior QB found Josh Whitcomb, who picked up 10 yards down to the 28. After mustering only two yards on their next set of downs, the Indians converted a fourth-and-eight on a pass to Ty Leininger down to the 14.
Running back Everett Bueter capped off the drive with a 17 yard touchdown at the 9:55 of the second quarter.
“I thought we were able to throw when we needed to throw, and we converted some big fourth downs in the first half that kept the sticks moving,” said Cooper. “But overall I am very pleased with our guys because they executed the game plan.”
Tinora had worked the ball down to the Wauseon five on the ensuing possession, but Brevin Renollet’s pass to Reid Anders fell incomplete on third down and goal. The Rams were further disappointed when Marcus Reeves pushed his 22 yard field goal to the right, keeping the deficit at 14-0.
However, the Rams cut the Wauseon lead in half when they got the ball back. A 44 yard pass play to Jacob Drewes, a seven yard scramble by Renollet, and an 11 yard connection to Anders set them up at the Wauseon four.
They didn’t waste any time as on first and goal, Riley Nagel bulldozed his way for a four yard TD to make it 14-7 with 4:31 left in the half.
Tinora did drive down the field in the waning moments of the opening half, but their drive stalled at the Indian 22 yard line which sent the game to halftime.
A pair of swing passes to Mason Creager, one of 11 yards and another for 10, helped Wauseon advance the ball down to the Ram 48 yard line on the opening possession of the third period.
Two plays later, Kauffman, on a play in which he audibled, found a streaking Luke Rychener down the left sideline for a 45 yard TD.
“We saw something in the first half and we made an adjustment at the half,” said Cooper of the play. “We did a check with me at the line to see what they were going to line up in. They lined up with what we thought they were and we took advantage of it. JJ put the ball on the money.”
A Wauseon interception immediately got them the ball back, beginning at their own 34. The drive culminated with a Kauffman TD run from the four, his second rushing score of the game that put the Indians on top 28-7.
“He is a trooper,” said Cooper of his QB. “He tweaked his ankle there in the second half, came off, and he said ‘I’m going back out.’ He came back out and ended up scoring the last touchdown, again, after one was called back.”
Tinora’s next drive took well over six minutes and carried into the fourth quarter. Using all running plays, mainly to T.J. Gares and Nagel, they worked the ball down inside the Wauseon five.
On third-and-goal, Renollet’s QB keeper from the half yard line cut the Indian lead in half at 28-14. However, it was to little to late as Whitcomb picked off a Renollet pass in the end zone on the Rams following possession, sealing the win for Wauseon.
Kauffman finished the game 10 for 14 through the air with a TD. He also ran for a pair of scores.
Wilson carried the ball 11 times for 136 yards. Pacing the Rams was Nagel who notched 72 yards on 13 carries and added a TD.
The Indians, who have currently won 17 straight regular season games, take that streak into a match-up at Delta Friday for a highly anticipated NWOAL contest.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010