Wauseon capitalized on some matchup advantages in the passing game during a 35-0 shutout of Delta Friday at Harmon Field. The good result came on the night the Indians celebrated Homecoming/Senior Night.
“It’s special for those guys, that last guaranteed home game for us this year,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore on the win. “I thought we came out with a lot of intensity. A penalty cost us on our first drive, but we were able to pick it up and convert and have some big plays in the first half.”
Wauseon struck first on their second possession of the ball game — following the Panthers turning it over on downs.
First, they picked up first downs on a 12-yard pitch and catch from Connar Penrod to Andrew Figgins, then on an 11-yard run from Tyson Britsch to set them up at the Delta 38-yard line.
On the next play Penrod dumped one off to Jude Armstrong who did the rest, galloping to paydirt and Samuel Blanco’s point after made it 7-0 with 6:33 to go in the first quarter.
The Panthers used a nice mix of run and pass on the ensuing possession to advance into Wauseon territory, but the drive stalled at the Wauseon 22 and Austin Kohlhofer came up short on a 39-yard field goal try at the beginning of the second quarter.
The Indians made them pay. Forced into a third-and-11 at the Panther 34, Sam Smith got behind his defender along the left sideline and hauled in the pass from Penrod for the score. Blanco’s extra point extended the margin at 14-0 with 8:44 left in the first half.
“That Sam Smith’s a good player,” said Delta coach Nate Ruple. “And he’s only a sophomore, and so we’re gonna have to deal with him a couple more years. We just didn’t have a matchup for him — we didn’t. We tried playing a guy underneath him and a guy over top of him and he still made a play. So, congratulations to him on a nice football game.”
Delta had to punt on its next two possessions, while the Indians would put another touchdown on the board just before the half.
Penrod hit Jonas Tester for a first down on a second down play from their own 32, plus a late hit penalty on Delta helped set them up in Panther territory. That led to a 31-yard heave to the end zone that was pulled down by Smith to make it 21-0, which ended up being the halftime score.
“We are going to take advantage of Sam. He’s got good speed and can go up and catch it. Make them either put two people on him or not. It’s up to the defense what they want to do. Again, that’s kind of the way we run our offense. We’ll take what they give you; just see where they’re at and try to go where they’re not,” explained Moore.
“They are a big-play football team, we knew that going in,” said Ruple. “And..we knew we were gonna have to make them drive the field. Let’s face it, first half, they had three big plays on us that cost us 21 points. Defensively, that’s a very good football team. They are physical, they’re athletic. And we knew we were gonna have trouble moving the ball. Hats off to them; they did what they had to do.”
Delta had the ball twice on Wauseon’s side of the field in the third quarter, but each time could not muster a scoring drive.
They began their second possession of the third quarter at the Indian 45. However, it resulted in a three-and-out.
Then, on a first down reception near midfield by Tester, he was popped hard by a Delta defender upon making the catch and the ball squirted out where it was intercepted by Bryar Knapp who returned it to the Wauseon 42.
The Panthers advanced the ball to the Indian 33 but on a fourth-and-one, quarterback James Ruple was stuffed in the backfield to turn it back over to Wauseon.
“We knew we were gonna have to put one in,” said coach Ruple of that third quarter stretch. “It’d give us a little energy. Give us some momentum. We couldn’t do it. We had some opportunities. Our defense has been playing well for us all year, and they gave us the ball in good position. We didn’t get it done offensively.”
The Indians responded with a two-yard passing TD to Armstrong for a 28-0 lead just before the end of the third. They reached the final spread with 7:19 left in the game on Britsch’s one-yard run.
The Indians outgained the Panthers 341-153 in total yards; however, Delta did rush for more 98-96. Wauseon had 245 passing yards to the Panthers’ 55.
“They are an up and coming team that plays really hard,” Moore said of the Panthers. “Coach Ruple’s doing a nice job with them. We had to do a couple different things than we’ve done this year. And that’s always good to work on some different things.”
Penrod was 19-31 through the air and hit Smith and Armstrong for a pair of TDs each. Smith hauled in four passes for 83 yards, while Armstrong caught seven for 64.
Britsch tallied 65 yards on the ground to go along with his score.
For Delta, Jerremiah Wolford had 51 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Josh Tresnan-Reighard added 26 yards rushing and 29 receiving.
Wauseon (5-0) next travels to Archbold (5-0) Friday for a contest that could ultimately decide who the league champion is. Both teams will still have one league game remaining, though.
Delta (2-3) hosts Patrick Henry (2-3) Friday night.