SHERWOOD – Hitting a game-winning field goal as time expires is like a scene from a movie, and Wauseon got to live it in their football season opener at Fairview Friday night. Taking advantage of a short field, with 2.4 seconds on the clock the Indians sent out junior place kicker Samuel Blanco, who squeezed it through the right goalpost to give the Indians a 17-14 victory over the Apaches.
Wauseon and first-year coach Shawn Moore were also able to get revenge after last year’s 34-30 home loss at the hands of Fairview. The road team has won the last five games of the series.
“We spent all summer talking about Fairview. Preparing for them, scheming for them. So it paid off,” explained Moore. “We put together a good game plan I thought. We struggled a bit out there on offense, but we stuck to what we said we were gonna do. We were able to make some plays and came out on top at the end. Total team effort from the top to the bottom.
“Everybody is part of this win. All the people that came to support us. Nobody but people from Wauseon believed in us. Nobody picked us to win this game. And we just kept saying, all week, before the game, at halftime, ‘we can do this, stick together.’”
Wauseon won the field position battle in the final minutes. After a drive of their’s stalled at the Apache 39 yard line, they were able to pin them back at the seven. The Apaches went three-and-out and after the punt, the Indians would take over inside Fairview territory at the 45.
Wauseon quarterback Cody Figy scrambled for a total of 30 yards on back-to-back plays to begin the drive, and following a pair of Indian timeouts, they were left with 12 seconds. They failed to connect through the air on the next two downs, leaving 2.4 on the clock and only time for one play.
Moore elected to send out Blanco. Fairview did try to ice him with a timeout, but the junior calmly knocked it through to begin the Indians’ celebration.
Blanco was 3 for 3 on the night hitting two PATs (point after attempts) and the field goal, a great night for someone who had officially taken over the job Wednesday.
“A kid that’s never played football before,” said Moore of Blanco. “Moved in last year to the school. So all he does at practice is kick field goals. And I felt that he gave us the best shot. Even today on my lunch break (at school), I had some coaches (say) ‘we’re going for two right we’re not kicking?’ And we made two PATs and a game-winning field goal. He’s never kicked anything farther than PAT range, but we had faith in him.”
Wauseon was brilliant on the defensive side of the ball all night long, forcing four Apache turnovers. And holding a Fairview team that averaged 34 points per game a season ago to just 14.
“(Defensive coordinator) J.D. Schnitkey (had) a great game plan. Again, we spent a lot of time watching Fairview. A lot of film from last year,” said Moore of his team’s effort on defense. “We just wanted our guys moving around. We wanted to put some pressure (on them). In the past, we’ve kind of sat back and let them throw it all over the place and pick us apart. We felt we had a better shot putting some pressure on (Fairview quarterback) Cade Polter.”
Each team got their first points in the second quarter.
Wauseon was helped by a pass interference call on third-and-10 from just short of midfield, allowing them to get into Fairview territory. Then, a PI call on third-and-three from the 12 gave them a first down at the six yard line, where three plays later Noah Tester hauled in a touchdown from Figy and Blanco’s point after put them up 7-0 with 4:10 before halftime.
However, the Apaches would drive 98 yards on the ensuing possession, as Polter connected with Russ Zeedyk from 11 yards away and the extra point tied it with 18 seconds to go.
The Apaches grabbed their first lead in the second half, but not until the 8:51 mark of the fourth quarter. A block in the back was called on a punt return TD by Riley Lucas, but it happened close to the end zone, thus giving Fairview prime field position at the Wauseon 20.
It took them only four plays to capitalize, when Lucas snagged one on an out pattern for a score from three yards out.
However, the Apaches booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to hand Wauseon the ball near midfield. On second-and-10 from the 50, Jonas Tester was left open over the middle and the sophomore burst through the Apache defense for a game-tying TD just 22 seconds after the Fairview score.
The Indian defense did not let Fairview advance past midfield the rest of the game.
Wauseon (1-0) has its home opener this week when they host Tinora (0-1).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010