With their backs against the wall down 14 points with less than 8:30 to go, Wauseon was finally able put together multiple scoring drives that eventually led to a 28-27 overtime win over visiting Patrick Henry Friday in Northwest Ohio Athletic League football.
The victory came on a night in which they honored Thayne Wooley, who would have been a senior this year but lost a battle to cancer in 2016. So it could be said that the Indians had some help from above.
“It was a big night for everybody,” stated Wauseon coach Shawn Moore. “With the ‘Thane Strong’ theme tonight. For our seniors, you know he really meant a lot to them growing up. So our guys had a little bit extra (motivation). The support of the community, again, is following us and it’s just been amazing. It’s been fun every game. Our guys just keep working hard.”
Patrick Henry took a 21-7 lead on Wil Morrow’s one yard run and a Clayton Feehan two-point conversion catch with 8:25 to go.
The Indians – on a drive that started at their own 40-yard line – answered 1:15 later. Quarterback Cody Figy found Jonas Tester open over the middle from 14 yards out and after a missed extra point, the Patriots’ lead was cut to 21-13.
Wauseon elected for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff but it was recovered by PH at their 47-yard line. They moved it into Indian territory when on third-and-7 at the 39, Jonas Tester intercepted a pass thrown into coverage by Patriot quarterback TJ Rhamy at the 23.
PH would be held scoreless for the rest of regulation, thanks in part to some defensive adjustments, according to coach Moore.
“That’s coaching right there. We decided that we finally had to make a change. Coach (J.D.) Schnitkey called a timeout and we changed the defense totally,” said the Indians’ head coach. “It was a great change by him. We probably should of done it a little earlier.”
The Jonas Tester pick led to a one yard rushing touchdown from Figy with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter. Needing the conversion for the tie, Figy and Jonas Tester hooked up to make it 21 all.
The Wauseon defense once again stepped up stalling a Patriot drive at their own 35. This gave them a chance to win the game in regulation but with no timeouts, Figy was brought down inbounds inside the 10 as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
PH got it first in overtime and on the fifth play of the possession, Rhamy scored from a yard out. With their holder out with an injury, they elected to go for two. However, the run by Rhamy was snuffed out by the Wauseon defense, putting the margin at 27-21.
A pass interference call set the Indians up at the eight. Three plays later, Figy went in from a yard out and Wauseon’s Samuel Blanco converted the extra point to send the crowd home happy.
Wauseon did have some missed opportunities earlier in the night, including turning the ball over on downs on a goal-to-go situation on their first possession. They also turned it over at the PH 20 when Figy was stripped following an 18-yard scamper to begin the third quarter.
The Indians did score first on a 30-yard pass to Connar Penrod that gave them a 7-0 lead at the 3:40 mark of the opening quarter. However, the Patriots got a pair of short rushing touchdowns in the second quarter from Morrow and Rhamy, and one of two extra points put them up 13-7 going into the break.
Nevertheless, the Indians would prevail.
“We had some opportunities early. First possession, got it down inside the five yard line and weren’t able to convert. Ended up going up, and then they came back and tied it. And then they took the lead. I thought our guys did a great job of hanging in there and playing hard,” concluded Moore. “Our guys kept battling, and battling, and battling. Eventually, in the fourth quarter we were able to find some openings in the pass game with Cody and our wide receivers. We’ve been saying it all year, let those guys make plays. They were able to do it for us tonight.”
PH did outgain Wauseon narrowly, 361-349. The Patriots held a 276-75 edge on the ground, but the Indians passed for 274 to just 85 from PH.
Figy had two TDs through the air and also ran for 48 yards and a score on 10 carries. Penrod finished with 10 receptions for 123 yards and a score, while Noah Tester had five grabs for 80.
The PH ground attack was led by Rhamy who racked up 175 yards on 33 carries and two scores, plus Morrow who carried 28 times for 101 yards and two scores.
With the Wauseon win and a Liberty Center loss to Bryan, three teams now sit at the top of the NWOAL at 4-1. Archbold, Liberty Center and Wauseon are all knotted with two weeks left in the regular season.
“We‘ve got two games left, we’re taking it one game at a time. We have the whole season,” said Moore of the league race. “So we got Delta coming up this week and then we’ll finish with Archbold. It’s gonna be a heck of a game to finish out the season. It’s gonna be probably the biggest game that I’ve ever been around. Looking forward to that but we got Delta first.”
Wauseon (7-1) travels to Delta (0-8) this Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010