Two touchdowns in the last 40 seconds of the first half broke open a close game as Wauseon pulled away to top Swanton 41-14 on Homecoming Friday. In addition to the win making for a happy homecoming, it was also the 500th in program history for the Indians.
“The team played hard. We improved in the run game and caught some timely passes,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore. “We still need to take care of the ball and not commit turnovers. The defense flew around the field and got back to playing our type of football.”
The Bulldogs actually had the ball in Wauseon territory trailing 13-7 in the second quarter, but were forced to punt. It was downed at the 12-yard line, where the Indians proceeded to drive down the field.
Runs by Thomas Leahy and Isaac Wilson got the ball to midfield before Cody Figy found Noah Tester for a 46-yard catch down to the Bulldog two. On second down, Figy ran it in from three yards out and Wauseon led 20-7 with 40 seconds left in the second quarter.
Swanton tried to strike back, but Tester intercepted a Trent Weigel pass, giving the Indians a chance to add to their lead. A wide receiver pass by Connar Penrod to Kolton DeGroff picked up 41 yards. Tyson Britsch finished the drive with a four yard touchdown run, giving the Indians a 27-7 lead at the break.
The Indians kept their foot on the gas to start the second half, converting an onside kick to start the third quarter. Wilson capped the drive with a five yard touchdown run and a 34-7 lead following the Samuel Blanco extra point.
“Getting some turnovers on defense and then converting those opportunities into points,” was the key to breaking open the game, according to Moore.
A Figy to Tester touchdown pass brought the lead to 41-7 later in the quarter.
Weigel found Josh Vance for a 12-yard scoring strike for Swanton to finish the scoring.
“I thought our kids played hard. It was a one possession game till about two minutes in the first half,” said Swanton coach Denton Saunders. “There were no bad attitudes on the field, sideline, or in the locker room all night long. My coaching staff did a great job of coaching players up throughout the game. As a coach in this position at this point of the season, I couldn’t ask for anything more and I couldn’t be happier with their efforts.”
Wauseon (5-1, 2-1 NWOAL) dominated in total yardage, outgaining Swanton 571-114. Britsch had 131 yards on the ground with Leahy adding 74, Wilson 63 and Bryson Stump 53. Figy was 9 of 16 passing for 133 yards and two scores.
Weigel was 10 of 17 for 102 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions for Swanton (1-5, 0-3).
Wauseon drove into Swanton territory to start the game, but Tyler Gowing sacked Figy to end the drive. Gowing was injured on the first play of Swanton’s drive, adding to an already injury-depleted Bulldog roster and forcing young players into the game.
”At one point in the game we had 6 freshmen on the field at one time,” said Saunders. “It’s hard to win games when you play so many young players, but we know the experience they are getting now will pay off for the team and the program in the future.”
The Bulldogs did drive into Wauseon territory before being forced to punt. Wauseon then drove 85 yards with a 3-yard run by Wilson capping the drive.
Swanton drove to the Wauseon 37-yard line, but the Indian defense stepped up to force a turnover on downs.
Wauseon converted a fourth and two on their way to another score. Figy found Tester for a 12-yard touchdown and 13-0 lead.
The Bulldogs struck back quickly as Vance took the kickoff and raced 80 yards to the end zone, cutting the lead to 13-7.
Wauseon will travel to 4-2 Evergreen on Friday. Swanton hosts unbeaten Liberty Center.