FOOTBALL: Wapak wins big over O-G
OTTAWA — Offense, defense and special teams.
You name it, Wapak owned it.
The Wapakoneta Redskins made big plays on all three as they pulled away to an emphatic 35-14 win over the state-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf Titans on Friday at Titan Stadium.
With the exception of a five-minute span in the second quarter, this one was all Redskins.
“I was just so proud of our kids tonight,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “I’m proud to be their coach and I was proud of their effort.”
Wapak remained unbeaten on the season at 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Western Buckeye League.
O-G, ranked No. 10 in the state in Division IV, fell to 4-2 and 3-2.
A pair of second-quarter momentum swings ended up being the turning point in the game.
The Redskins built an early 14-0 lead on two long scoring drives as the defense held O-G to three-and-out on its first three possessions.
But then O-G junior running back Tristan Parker broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run. The PAT went wide right but Wapak’s lead was cut to 14-6.
“It was a bad play on my part,” senior defensive back Connor Metz said. “I got sucked inside and he popped it out on us.”
Cue Josh Carder.
The junior subbed in for senior Kevin Kraft on the ensuing kickoff and raced 73 yards for a touchdown. Carder outran O-G freshman Blake Blevins, who tried to trip him up, and dove into the end zone.
“That was great,” senior nose guard Jim Knippen said. “Our defense was kind of down coming off that touchdown. It just brought us right back up.”
Bailey Hinegardner connected on his third of five PAT’s on the night to make it 21-6.
But O-G wasn’t quite finished yet. The Titans marched 75 yards on the next possession and drew within a touchdown, 21-14, on a 24-yard touchdown pass from junior Caleb Siefker to junior Jacob Leopold. Siefker then connected with Craig Rieman for the two-point conversion.
On Wapak’s next play from scrimmage, senior running back Connor Pickens fumbled the ball and O-G recovered near midfield with 2:18 left in the half.
The Titans picked up a couple first downs before Wapak linebackers Zach Schmerge and Brendan Wilson stuffed Siefker on a fourth down at the Redskins 19.
“I love those guys,” Pickens said.
Said senior linebacker Josh Hartman, “It puts the pressure on us. But that’s what we like. If something happens on the offense, we like bringing us back.”
O-G gained 172 yards of offense in the final seven minutes of the second quarter and just 134 over the other 41 minutes of the contest.
“All season our defense has bent but not broken,” Metz said. “We stiffened up when we needed to.”
Wapak held the Titans to three-and-out on three possessions and made stops on fourth down three times.
“I thought in the first half we were really just on the verge of putting the game away,” Frye said. “I felt we had control at the half. It just didn’t show on the scoreboard.”
Pickens rushed for a Pickens-esque 175 yards on 26 carries (6.7 per carry) and three touchdowns, with the fumble the only blemish on another outstanding performance.
As has been the case all year, the Redskins offensive line wore down the O-G defensive front as the game progressed.
“They were driving guys six and seven yards up the field,” Pickens said.
Wapak’s four scoring drives measured 15 plays, 90 yards; six plays, 70 yards; nine plays, 97 yards; and 14 plays, 62 yards.
“That’s the first time I’ve really seen that this year, out of this team, on a consistent basis,” Frye said.
The passing game was turning heads too.
Junior quarterback Kyle Gibson had his best game of the season, completing 4 of 7 attempts for 100 yards — all in the first half — and no interceptions.
Gibson completed a pair of long passes to his tight ends. Junior Brandon Christler had a 43-yard catch. And Gibson found senior Nic Sawmiller for a 36-yard pickup to set up a 16-yard touchdown run by senior Kevin Kraft.
“Kyle Gibson is overshadowed by all the great quarterbacks in this league,” Frye said. “I’ll take Kyle. He’s a great kid and does a tremendous job.”
Perhaps Wapak’s most impressive drive was its first of the second half.
After an O-G punt pinned the Redskins at their own 3, Wapak went to work.
Pickens carried the ball six times — the big one a 64-yarder down the left side line — in the nine-play drive and punched it in from three yards out to put Wapak up 28-14 with 1:58 left in the quarter.
“I don’t think there is any doubt they won the line of scrimmage tonight,” O-G coach Ken Schriner said. “And Pickens is a load, trying to bring him down.
“He’s running through tackles and when you think you’ve got him stopped, you’ve got guys in the right position, next thing you know he’s carrying for four or five yards.”
O-G’s Parker finished the night with 158 yards on 18 carries (8.8 per carry) with one touchdown.
Siefker was 5-for-12 passing for 50 yards.