Although they had to fight off a furious rally from the hometown Wauseon Indians, an interception in the final minute sealed a 24-21 win for Archbold in NWOAL football Friday night, their first victory over their rivals since 2012.
“It’s been kind of the monkey on our back for quite some time,” said Archbold coach David Dominique on the significance of the win. “We haven’t been able to beat them the last four years. They’ve always been close. But tonight we pulled it out. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but you know what I am very proud of my players. They came out and executed the gameplan. And my assistant coaches got them ready to play.”
The Blue Streaks set the tone in the first half when they built a 17-point cushion.
They notched a field goal on their opening possession, set up by a 34-yard run from Sam Petersen which put them into Indian territory. Kaiden Bedsole completed the drive with a 21-yard field goal, making it 3-0 with 8:54 left in the opening quarter.
Wauseon got down inside the Archbold 40 on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled at the 36 on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-6.
The Streaks continued their flurry as Sam Petersen broke through a tackle and ran 41 yards for a touchdown, and Bedsole’s extra point gave them a 10-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the quarter.
A missed field goal from Archbold and more missed opportunities by the Indians took up most of the time in the second quarter until the Streaks retained possession at around the five-minute mark.
They picked up a crucial third down when quarterback Gabe Petersen hit Isaiah Gomez for 31 yards down to the Wauseon 34 yard line. The Streaks were then put in a fourth-and-1 situation from the 25, but Gabe Petersen called his own number and got a first down after a gain of three.
The Petersen twins totaled 297 yards on the ground and two scores.
“They run angry,” said Dominique of the pair. “And they’re not the biggest guys, but you know what they run hard. They work their tails off. So that’s why they are put in these positions, because they put the time in and they are hard-nosed kids. So, I’m very proud of both those guys.”
Later in the drive on another third down, Gabe Petersen connected with Deven Girdham cutting across the middle from eight yards away to make it 17-0 with just 24 seconds remaining in the half.
“You can’t not play a half of football. It just doesn’t work,” said Wauseon coach Travis Cooper. “If you would have been at practice this week, you would have saw nothing that we worked on being displayed out there (tonight). They (Archbold) did a great job, but 99 percent of our mistakes in the first half was us not doing anything that we talked about in practice this week.”
In a hole to start the second half, the Indians took to the air and they found some holes in the Blue Streak defense. They did so on their second drive of the third quarter, taking advantage of a short field following a muffed punt by Archbold.
On the second play Wauseon quarterback Hunter Yackee found Owen Newlove open up the sideline for a 35-yard score, trimming the Blue Streak lead to 17-7 following Andrew Gray’s point after.
The Indians would get the ball back later in the third where their offense continued to move the ball. The big strike was a 43-yard connection to Newlove on what looked like an identical play as the TD, putting the ball at the Blue Streak eight.
“I thought that our guys were able to take advantage of that mismatch that we had seen,” said Cooper on the big plays to Newlove. “And we kind of lulled them asleep with some of our other run stuff. Then finally, Hunter (Yackee) put the ball on the money and Owen did a great job.”
Yackee later hit Everett Bueter in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard TD to cut it to 17-14 with less than 30 seconds to go in the third.
However, the Streaks willed their way to another score that took more than eight minutes off the clock.
They had a pair of fourth down conversions on the drive as Gabe Petersen picked up eight on fourth-and-2 at the Wauseon 44, and then he had a short run to the 24 on fourth-and-1, keeping the drive alive. He followed that with three straight runs to advance the ball down to the six, where his brother Sam capped it off with a TD for a 24-14 lead with 4:02 remaining.
“That second to last drive that we had was huge for us,” said Dominique. “We came out, executed, (and) put the ball in the end zone. That was a good way to cap it off.”
The Indians struck again through the air on third-and-15 on the next possession. Newlove again got away from his man and Yackee hit him in stride for a 58-yard score to put them within three at the 3:37 mark.
Archbold recovered the onside kick, however, the Indian defense forced a three-and-out to give them one more chance.
With time going against them, the Indians looked down the field again on a third-and-7 play but Yackee’s pass was too far for Newlove and Gabe Petersen intercepted it at the Archbold 31.
“Our defense finally got us a stop, but we were just running out of time,” said Cooper of the last drive. “We just didn’t have enough timeouts to really push it down the field and just methodically go. So we had to take a shot, and you know they made a play.”
Archbold outgained Wauseon 390-237 behind a 298-61 advantage on the ground. The Streaks also won the time of possession battle by more than 17 minutes.
Gabe Petersen tallied 169 yards rushing on 35 carries, while Sam Petersen had 128 yards and a pair of scores.
For Wauseon, Yackee was 12 for 18 through the air for 183 yards and three TDs to only one pick. Newlove caught five passes for 142 yards and two TDs. Bueter had five receptions for 34 yards and a score.
Archbold (3-1, 1-0 NWOAL) returns home to face Patrick Henry (2-2, 1-0) this Friday. Wauseon (3-1, 0-1) hosts Bryan (2-2, 1-0), who is coming off a comeback win versus Swanton Friday night.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010