DELTA – Delta got a 45 yard touchdown run by Bailey Storeholder on fourth-and-two with six minutes to play to help propel them past Wauseon Friday night, 20-14. Although they did miss the extra point, the Panther defense, which also forced three first half turnovers, kept the Indians out of the end zone to seal the win.
The loss for Wauseon snapped their 17-game regular season winning streak.
“What it was is we are finally starting to come together,” said Delta coach Jeff Wolford on the win. “These kids work so hard, the only thing they haven’t done is a little discipline, and a little working together as one.”
For the Indians, coach Travis Cooper had an inkling before the game that his team may come out flat.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Cooper. “I don’t know what it was. Before the game I sensed it.”
Prior to the Storeholder score, Wauseon had battled back to tie the score at 14 after trailing by a pair of TDs at the half.
The first TD came on the opening drive of the second half. The Indians were helped by an off sides by the Panthers on third-and-five at their own 42 which gave them a first down.
They followed that up with a nine yard completion from J. J. Kauffman to Ty Leininger, a misdirection run for eight yards by Brendan Wilson, and an eight yard carry for Everett Bueter to place the ball on the Delta 19.
Three plays later the Indians cashed in on a Kauffman keeper from three yards out to cut the lead in half, 14-7.
In the fourth quarter after a turnover on downs by Delta, Wauseon again drove down the field for a score. A big play on the drive was a Kauffman first down run on third down from their own 45, plus a personal foul penalty on Delta which moved the ball into Panther territory.
They also hit on a big passing play to Leininger which got the ball down to the 17. The score came with 8:40 left in the fourth as Kauffman again kept the ball, running in his second TD of the game, to knot the score.
The Panthers, however, answered exactly 2:30 later.
Three short runs by Jesse Beverly led to a fourth-and-two at the Wauseon 45. On a play that originally looked stopped, Storeholder broke through initial contact and scampered 45 yards down the sideline for the game winning TD.
“I called it and it worked. It is fate,” said Wolford of Storeholder’s TD. “The kid is phenomenal.”
“We didn’t tackle well. We couldn’t stop the sweep, we couldn’t stop the trap,” added Cooper. “We didn’t read our keys the way that we talked about all week. We just played as bad as we could possibly play.”
Each teams punted on their next possession, but Wauseon did get the ball back with a little over two minutes remaining and a chance to win it. However, the Indians could only gain three yards on the drive and on fourth-and-six at the Delta 49, Kauffman’s pass along sidelines fell incomplete.
In the first half, the Wauseon offense had two fumbles and an interception which allowed Delta to dominate the time of possession.
An interception grabbed by Delta’s Evan Vasquez inside their own 16 yard line helped set up the Panthers’ first TD. It was Storeholder who capped off the drive on first-and-goal from the six that put them ahead 7-0 with 3:23 remaining in the opening quarter.
Storeholder also ran one in from two yards out at the 9:31 mark of the second quarter to reach what would be the halftime score of 14-0.
Storeholder rushed 20 times for 159 yards and all three of the Panther scores. Beverly added 81 yards on 21 carries.
“On tape we saw we could shred these guys,” stated Wolford of his team’s offensive performance. “We haven’t shown that to anybody. And I kept telling them every day, you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to know you can do this, and we did it.”
The Wauseon offense was led by Kauffman who ran for 89 yards and a pair of TDs. Also, Leininger caught four passes for 59 yards.
The triumph puts Delta at the forefront of the NWOAL race with teams like Swanton, Evergreen and Liberty Center who also notched victories Friday night.
For Wauseon it is back to the drawing board as the defending champs drop to 0-1 in league play.
“It takes the control out of our hands now,” said Cooper. “But this is going to be the true test to see how our team is. Because some teams would pack it in, and other teams use it as some resolve and they keep it in the back of their mind and it really pushes them to the next level.”
Wauseon looks to get back on track Friday when they host rival Archbold. Delta is at Patrick Henry.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010