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WAYNESFIELD — Putting as many as eight and nine people in the box, daring the Ridgemont Golden Gophers to throw the ball, the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers dominated on the defensive side of the ball.
The Waynesfield-Goshen offense needed the defensive dominance until nearly the end of the first half when they started clicking and then the defense even joined in the scoring as Tigers defeated Ridgemont 34-8 in front of home crowd on Senior Night in Northwest Central Conference action.
The win was W-G’s second straight after an 0-5 start to the season.
“There were two opportunities in the first half that we had fourth-down plays, and I went for it as opposed to kicking the field goals, but I thought it was important for us to get some confidence offensively,” W-G varsity coach Doug Foley said. “At the same time, I felt really confident that we would be able to maintain that short field position.
“The last two weeks our defense has really stepped up and tackled better and attack and pursue better,” he said. “There were still moments we relaxed, but overall I was very, very pleased.”
The Tigers defense held the Golden Gophers to 33 yards offense in the first, all on the ground.
They surrendered only 89 yards to the offense the entire game and did not let Ridgemont cross midfield until 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
For the game, Ridgemont junior running back Justice McGue led the Golden Gophers with 65 yards on 10 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run at the 7:09 mark in the fourth quarter.
He started the play up the middle and then broke to the left corner of the end zone.
The only other big gain in the game was a 21-yard rush by freshman wide receiver Trenton Sparks in the first quarter.
Ridgemont varsity coach Mike Eversole credited his defense for keeping them in the game during the first half, but with a senior wing back having to take over quarterback duties the last couple of weeks he knew his offensive play selection was limited.
“Our defense has really been forced to be out on the field a lot this year,” Eversole said. “We started the year by losing our starting quarterback which affected our offense dramatically. Our quarterback now is Chris Weyent, who has stepped up and put forth the effort but he is not a quarterback.
“That allows teams like the Tigers to stack the box and just come at him,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who play both ways and when your offense cannot move the ball then you play with your backs against your end zone. Tonight that is where we played the whole night. We try to bend not break, but every once in a while they break.”
The first time the Golden Gophers broke was with 1:15 left in the first half. Lake Turner found senior wide receiver Matt Motter in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard strike.
While the Tiger offense sputtered for most of the first half, they gained 127 yards on 33 plays, with 99 coming on the ground on 24 rushes. Junior quarterback Lake Turner threw for another 28 yards and one TD on 3-of-9 passing, including at least three other dropped passes.
The offense came to life in the second half.
“Offensively that was the most balanced attack we have had all season,” Foley said. “It seemed to me there was a lot of things we could take advantage of via the run, off-tackle and to the outside. We noticed on film that Ridgemont had trouble defending the outside and we wanted to use our speed — something we have been trying to do all season long.”
He said getting sophomore running back Trey Crumrine helped the other backs because the defense had to respect the inside game and the line did a better job blocking on the runs and giving Lake Turner time to throw.
The Tiger offense started to click at the end of the first half, but they took control with a 14-play drive to start the third quarter after recovering an onsides kick.
They utilized several different backs and one pass play, capped by a 2-yard quarterback sneak up the middle by Lake Turner.
Leading 14-0, they forced another 3-and-out for Ridgemont.
Lake Turner struck quickly, finding junior wide receiver Brandon Turner for a 40-yard pass play with 2:30 left in the third quarter. On the next play, freshman running back Josh Searson scored from 5 yards out.
The defense then got into the act.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, sophomore defensive end Drew Lament intercepted the ball on a short flat pass and returned the ball 55 yards for a touchdown and the rout was on, deflating any emotion for Ridgemont.
Searson capped the scoring on a 4-yard run with 2:16 left in the game.
Next week the Tigers will travel to DeGraff to take on the Riverside Pirates.
W-G: Lake Turner 17-76; Drew Lament 7-24; Trey Crumrine 11-32; Josh Searson 7-18; Luke Hall 3-11; Jarrod Bly 1-0. Ridgemont: Justice McGue 10-65; Cameron Smith 10-13; Cole Weyent 1-(-2); Trenton Sparks 1-21; Zane Connally 1-(-1); Craig Green 1-(-8).
W-G: Lake Turner 5-13 72. Ridgemont: Chris Weyent 2-14 14.
W-G: Matt Motter 2-24; Brandon Turner 1-40; Drew Lament 2-8. Ridgemont: Craig Green 1-2; Cole Weyent 1-12.