Wauseon overcame some mistakes in what could be predicted for the first football game of the season, but they could not contain the Fairview passing attack as the Apaches defeated the Indians at Harmon Field Friday night, 34-30.
“It was just missed opportunities. When a game comes down to being a close game like that, those little things get magnified,” said Wauseon coach Travis Cooper of the loss. “We had multiple opportunities to win the game. We didn’t make the play when we needed to and they did. That’s a good football team. They’re gonna win a lot of games. We’ve just got to figure out a way to finish.”
The Indians led for just 5:14 in the first half, however, for the most part it was all Fairview before the break.
Apache quarterback Cade Polter connected with Riley Lucas, Russ Zeedyk, and Luke Timbrook for scores in the first half, while Lucas also had a two-point conversion. No team attempted an extra point in the contest.
Wauseon’s touchdown came from quarterback Connar Penrod on a one-yard plunge four seconds into the second quarter, with Isaac Wilson catching the two-point conversion. Fairview took a 20-8 lead into halftime.
The Apaches attempted to slam the door to start the third period with an onside kick which they hopped on at the Wauseon 46 yard line. However, the Wauseon defense stiffened and forced a three-and-out, including a sack of Polter on third down.
On the ensuing possession, the Indians moved the ball into Apache territory. Penrod scrambled for seven yards on a third and short at the Fairview 30, then a personal foul penalty was tacked on to set the Indians up at the nine.
The very next play, the sophomore signal caller rolled left and found fellow sophomore Wilson for a TD. The conversion attempt failed, cutting the Fairview lead to 20-14 with 7:40 left in the third.
Later in the quarter, Xavier Torres picked off a Polter pass and advanced the ball into Apache territory at the 46. They would cash in with 3:33 left in the quarter on another one-yard scamper from Penrod, then he hooked up with Zac Carroll for the conversion to give the Indians a 22-20 lead.
However, on a drive that carried into the fourth quarter, the Apaches took back the lead. The Polter and Lucas connection was good for both the TD and the conversion, making it 28-22 10 seconds into the fourth.
Fairview’s entire offense came through the air, as Polter completed 33 of 50 passes for 347 yards and five TDs to one pick. They rushed for minus 31 yards.
“They are good in terms of throwing the football all over the place,” said Cooper of the Apache passing attack. “They stretch you out, and they make you tackle in space. We did a pretty good job, but we couldn’t get off the field on fourth down, third down and long (situations).”
Wauseon took advantage of a short field later in the quarter to reclaim the lead.
The big play of the drive was Noah Tester’s snag on a deep out route for a gain of 16 on fourth-and-9, setting them up at the Fairview 14. Four plays later, Penrod ran it in from two yards out and Joey Shema’s catch for the two-point conversion made it 30-28 with 2:48 remaining.
Fairview was forced into a fourth-and-10 from their own 34 on their next possession, but Zeedyk got behind his man for a 34-yard completion down to the Wauseon 32. Caleb Frank scored on the next play on a short pass from Polter, taking it the rest of the way to reach the final tally of 34-30.
The Indians were able to cross midfield into Apache territory, but on a third down play with under 10 seconds left, Penrod’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Timbrook and the run out took the remainder of the time.
“It hurts definitely in terms of playoff points and things like that. But, most team’s goals are still on the table,” concluded Cooper. “One loss isn’t gonna define your season. But like I told our guys, it will if you let it. So we’ve got to get better from it and we’ve got to move on.”
Wauseon outgained the Apaches 389-316. Penrod finished with 128 yards on 14 of 25 passing and a score, while tallying 81 yards on the ground and three TDs. Torres added 84 yards on the ground on eight carries.
Wilson was the Indians leading receiver with 42 yards on four receptions and a TD. Zeedyk caught nine passes for 88 yards to lead the Apaches.
Wauseon will look to get back on track this Friday when they head to Tinora (0-1).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010