A rivalry game that by itself means a lot, was propped up even more with a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League football title on the line. The visitors, Archbold, emerged victorious in surprising fashion, building a 31-0 halftime lead and rolling to a 38-0 win over Wauseon Friday night.
“Earlier this year it didn’t seem really possible,” said Archbold coach David Dominique on winning a league title, which they share with Liberty Center. “Hit some adversity, (falling short to) a very good Liberty Center team. But you know what, it’s fun to bounce back from it like this. End on a great note. Hopefully, we can get us some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Dominique said his team didn’t really need any extra motivation for this game, but whatever he and his staff told the players in the days leading up to the game undoubtedly worked.
“It’s Wauseon week,” said Dominique. “If you’re from Archbold, this is a huge rivalry. Our guys came well-prepared. Most importantly, they executed tonight. Our physicality was top notch. I just loved the way we played. It’s fun to see all the hard work pay off, watching these guys celebrate right now.”
Despite the result for Wauseon, the Indians and the Blue Streaks will each host playoff games this weekend.
“We had some opportunities, and could not make plays when we needed them,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore of the loss to the Streaks. “Archbold was able to make some plays in the second quarter and opened up the game. We will learn from this and go back to work next week preparing for the playoffs.”
Archbold took advantage of a short field on their second possession of the night, leading to a 31-yard field goal from Devin Witte to lead 3-0 at the 2:56 mark of the first quarter.
Wauseon would either turn the ball over on downs or throw an interception on each of its next four possessions, aiding the Streaks in their 28-point second quarter.
The Indians got into Blue Streak territory to the 13-yard line in a drive near the end of the first quarter, however, that is where they would stall out.
Archbold, using the legs and right arm of quarterback DJ Newman, found the end zone for the first time less than four minutes into the second stanza.
A Wauseon personal foul also helped the Archbold drive, giving them a goal-to-go situation from the three. Two plays later Caleb Hogrefe punched it in from a yard out and Witte’s extra point put them up 10-0 with 8:19 to go until halftime.
The Indians got a pair of first downs from Sean Brock and Isaac Wilson to set them up with a scoring chance as they looked to keep within striking distance. Brock made a nice catch near the sideline for a gain of 20 yards, then Wilson exploded ahead for 14 more, putting the ball at the Archbold 32-yard line.
On the next play, however, they went for the end zone and Cody Figy’s deep ball was tipped up and intercepted by Elijah Zimmerman at the one.
That led to another Archbold touchdown two plays later. Noah Gomez burst through the line and rumbled 74 yards to paydirt, extending the Blue Streak lead to 17-0 nearly halfway through the quarter.
Gomez – who later finished the scoring with a 62-yard TD in the third quarter – tallied 197 yards on 21 carries and two scores.
“My line was opening up huge holes for me. It was easy to recognize them. All the props goes to them,” said a humble Gomez after the game.
“He had a rough week. His grandma passed away. So he’s been in and out of practice this week. I knew coming in tonight he was ready to go. You could tell all day long in warm-ups. The offensive line opened some nice gaps. He broke some tackles and good things happen with that combination,” added coach Dominique.
Gomez played receiver on the ensuing Indians’ possession, running down a Wauseon overthrow for a pick to set the Streaks up near midfield.
This paved the way for a 29-yard catch and run for a score by Antonio Cruz, who took a short pass and broke free to the end zone making the Archbold lead 24-0.
Wauseon, starting with the ball at their own 42, marched all the way down to the Archbold 17 before turning it over on downs for the second time of the half. This essentially ended up being a 14-point swing as the Streaks cashed in with a 46-yard pass up the left sideline from Newman to Brandon Taylor with 20 seconds left in the opening half.
Archbold carried a 31-point lead into the break.
“It feels great. Beating our rivals. Everything we did tonight felt like it worked,” said Newman.
“We came in here confident. But we did not expect this outcome in this way,” he later added.
With a running clock in effect for the second half per OHSAA rule, the Streaks were able to preserve the shutout.
“The rivalry to begin with, it’s insane. I’ve never been a part of something greater than this,” said Gomez. “We had so much motivation coming into this game, because we knew how much it meant. It just feels great for all the preparation, everything, to pay off.”
Archbold (9-1, 6-1 NWOAL) outgained Wauseon (8-2, 5-2) 444-222.
After Gomez, Newman paced the rushing attack with 63 yards on 10 carries. He also completed 11 of 14 passes for 174 yards, two TDs and one interception.
On the flip side, the Streaks limited Figy to just 15 of 34 for 146 yards and three interceptions. Penrod paced the Indian offense, catching five passes for a total of 63 yards.
Both teams can now look forward to the first round of the playoffs. Archbold hosts Coldwater (8-2) this Friday, while Wauseon welcomes Bellevue (6-4) Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010