Wauseon took a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter, and that was enough as they would hold on for a 14-7 victory at Delta in a game played on a muddy field Friday night. The game was delayed 45 minutes due to the lightning and storms.
“(These) field conditions is not suitable for our offense. We had to kind of adapt and do some different things. I still thought that we did a pretty good job. Just had a couple plays where the ball’s slipping out of our hands and things like that. It is what it is, and you know, we got the ‘W.’ So, moving on,” Wauseon Coach Shawn Moore said after the game.
The Indians improve to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League. Delta drops to 4-4 and 2-3 in the league.
“It was a hard-fought game all the way around,” noted Delta Coach Nate Ruple. “Wauseon did what they had to do to win. They took advantage of our mistakes. Just had too many turnovers at critical times. Give credit to Wauseon for taking advantage of those critical turnovers and putting points on the board.”
The Panthers had trouble orchestrating their punts in the first half, and on their second of the game the ball was snapped over the head of punter Josh Tresnan-Reighard and recovered by the Indians.
They turned it into points when, on second-and-goal at the five, Wauseon quarterback Elijah McLeod rolled to his left and found Jude Armstrong for the touchdown and 7-0 lead after Tyson Rodriguez’ extra point.
Delta’s next drive stalled, and again they could not get the punt off, giving Wauseon the ball at the Panther 34-yard line.
However, after picking up a first down on a 13-yard catch by Armstrong, the Delta defense stiffened. They dropped the Indians for a one yard loss, then had back-to-back sacks of McLeod, and Wauseon could not convert on fourth-and-goal at the 20.
The Panthers got to near midfield on their next drive, but were stuffed on a fourth and short from their own 45 to turn it back over to the Indians with 3:16 before halftime.
“The field slowed everybody down tonight,” admitted Ruple. “We weren’t able to run the ball either. Our kids played hard; they played till the end. Wauseon’s a good football team. They just were able to outlast us this game. Credit to Wauseon for that big win tonight.”
Wauseon scored in less than two minutes to begin the second half. Jonas Tester had a pair of first down receptions on the drive, including one for 45 that put the ball at the Indian five. Two plays later, after a two-yard loss, McLeod dumped a pass to Bryson Stump, who took it in from seven yards out for a 14-0 lead.
Each team had turnovers that stopped drives in the third quarter.
The Panthers had an interception on one occasion, plus a fumbled handoff exchange in a goal-to-go situation. On the other side, Delta scooped up a backwards pass by Wauseon.
Delta then churned away much of the fourth quarter clock to get on the scoreboard. They did so behind the running of Tresnan-Reighard, Bryar Knapp, and Jerremiah Wolford.
Quarterback James Ruple kept the drive alive, sneaking for three yards on a fourth-and-1 at the 29 with 7:22 left. They appeared to be stopped on fourth and goal from about the 15 when Ruple was intercepted, but Wauseon was called for roughing the passer to extend the drive.
Two plays later, Tresnan-Reighard bulled his way in from five yards out to make it a 14-7 game with 4:48 remaining.
However, the Panthers would not see the ball again and the Indians claimed the victory.
Outside of Delta’s scoring drive, Coach Moore was encouraged by how his defense was able to hold the Panthers in check.
“Just bend, don’t break. Make them drive the whole way and see if they can make a mistake or not. A lot of times they did. And then, just a little too aggressive on that last possession down low with Bryson (Stump) getting the roughing the passer. It’s just unfortunate. But again, tough football team in Delta. They got a good running attack; they got some big kids. And so we had to work for it in these conditions,” said Moore of his defense.
Both teams each had 199 yards of total offense.
McLeod completed 19 of 25 for 181 yards and two scores. Armstrong had 11 receptions for 70 yards and a score, while Tester caught 5 for 77 yards.
Leading the Panther rushing attack was Wolford with 103 yards. Tresnan-Reighard carried it 19 times for 49 yards and a score.
Wauseon plays host to rival Archbold (8-0, 5-0 NWOAL) on Friday. Delta is at Patrick Henry (5-3, 3-2).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.