DEFIANCE — Connor Pickens had another big night and the Wapakoneta defense rebounded from a sluggish start as the Redskins defeated the Defiance Bulldogs 21-7 at Fred J. Brown Stadium for the first time since 1989.
“We knew it was a tough environment to come into,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “We cleared a hurdle tonight. ... We’re making some progress. I’m just a hard guy to please.”
The win upped Wapak’s record to 5-0 on the season and got the Redskins within one win of their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1991.
Pickens rushed for 230 yards on 29 carries (7.9 per carry) and a pair of touchdowns.
Defiance marched down the field on its opening drive and took a 7-0 lead thanks to a three-yard touchdown run by Nick Lopez.
It was the last time the Bulldogs would sniff the end zone.
The Redskins defense held Lopez, who came into the contest averaging 144.3 yards per game and 5.6 per carry, to just 68 yards on 27 carries (2.5 average).
“I was concerned because we really haven’t had a running team, per se,” Frye said. “Bath came at us with [Aaron] Smith and we didn’t do a very good job, frankly, in the one running matchup that we had. ...
“I thought as the game progressed, at least not watching the film yet, it looked like we got better against the running game as the game progressed.”
Wapak tied the game back up at 7-7 on a five-yard Pickens touchdown run.
Senior halfback Kevin Kraft added a five-yard touchdown run around the left end to help lift Wapak a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Wapak came up with big plays on defense and on special teams.
Junior cornerback Johnny Crawford ended a Defiance drive with an interception.
The Redskins sacked Defiance quarterback Joe Keween five times for a total of 29 yards. Wapak held the Bulldogs to just 173 total yards of offense.
“Tonight the credit goes to our defensive kids,” Frye said. “Especially after you watch a team take its opening drive and stick it at you, on the road, at a place you haven’t won at since 1989, for our kids and coaches to keep our composure and keep coming back...”
Junior Brandon Miller blocked a punt that senior Jim Knippen recovered.
“We started to assert a little bit [after the blocked punt],” Frye said.
Pickens ran for a first down on a fake punt.
Pickens added his second touchdown with a 47-yard run on the third play of the second half. Pickens took the handoff up the middle, broke three tackles and took advantage of an upfield block by Kraft to race into the end zone.
That was all the scoring the Redskins would need.
Both offenses stalled as rain began to pelt the stadium. After Pickens’ touchdown, the two team combined for four punts, two turnovers on downs and a fumble on the remaining second-half possessions.
“It would be very interesting if we put a football game together here,” Frye said. “We’re kind of waiting for that to happen. And if we wait too long, we’re going to end up with a loss. So we need to get busy.”
Wapak is now 4-0 in the league and faces a key WBL matchup next week against the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans, who are 4-1 overall, 3-1 in the league and coming off a tough loss to Kenton on Friday.
Defiance fell to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the WBL.