The Wapakoneta Redskins dropped back into the shotgun and unloaded both barrels of the “Wing-and-Fling” offense on the St. Marys Roughriders.
Junior quarterback Kyle Gibson threw for 289 yards and rushed for 118 more to lead the Redskins to a dominating 48-22 win over rival St. Marys on Friday at Harmon Field.
Wapak scored on seven of its nine possessions. Of the two in which they did not score, the Redskins had a touchdown nullified by a penalty on one and ran out the clock to end the game in the other.
“That’s not a bad night for a running team, is it,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “The fling definitely showed up tonight.”
Through the first six games of the season Gibson was just 15-of-38 (39.5 percent) passing for 313 yards with two touchdowns and was the eighth-rated passer in the Western Buckeye League.
In what has been dubbed the “Year of the Quarterback” thanks to Kenton’s Maty Mauk and Elida’s Reggie McAdams, Gibson has been an afterthought.
Friday night he connected on his first 17 throws and finished the game with an unofficial school-record 20 completions in 22 attempts (90.9 percent) and three touchdowns.
He also led the Redskins in rushing with 118 yards on 16 carries, including a 57-yard touchdown run.
“I had no idea we were going to go that much gun today,” Gibson said. “Coach Frye always talks about everyone doing their job. And I think tonight everyone did their job. The line did great with the runs. And Pick (Connor Pickens) did great when he got it.
“Everyone did their job tonight and the score shows it.”
Said Frye, “It’s not bad for a guy who’s used to handing off all the time. It’s not bad at all. Give him a lot of accolades, but the offensive line did a wonderful job protecting him and giving him plenty of time to throw.”
Junior Johnny Crawford has six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.
“I’ve been waiting for this all season,” Crawford said.
Senior Kevin Kraft caught eight passes for 87 yards and a score. He also rushed for 51 yards on five carries with a 37-yard touchdown run.
“After we got into a rhythm catching the ball, we just kept moving it the whole time,” Kraft said.
Junior Josh Carder had three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
And senior tight end Nic Sawmiller had three catches for 44 yards.
“They’re well coached and they’ve seen our films and we’ve not done a good job stopping the pass all year long,” St. Marys coach Greg Phillips said. “Not to be a smart-alec, but what would you do? ...
“If [Gibson] was in Kenton’s schemes, zinging the ball 50 times a game, he might be throwing for 400-500 yards a game too.”
The win lifted Wapak to a perfect 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the WBL. The Redskins were ranked ninth in Division II in the latest Associated Press state poll.
“Our kids are getting a taste of this winning and a taste of success. And they’re really liking it,” Frye said. “We’ve still got some work to do defensively. And we had a lot of penalties tonight. But man, what about that fling tonight?”
Wapak used a key stretch at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third to turn a close game into a runaway win.
Wapak led 20-14 after the teams traded touchdowns on the first five possessions of the game. St. Marys looked poised to make it 6-of-6 as it marched into Wapak territory.
But Redskins senior linebacker Brendan Wilson dropped Roughriders quarterback T.J. Powell for a loss on second down to set up a third-and-long. The Roughriders couldn’t convert and were forced to punt the ball away with just 1:02 left in the half.
“As the game went on, I thought our defensive kids did a lot better job adapting to the tempo of the game,” Frye said.
After a holding penalty on the return brought Wapak back to its own 15 yard line, the Redskins appeared content to take the six-point lead into the lockerroom as they ran back-to-back running plays.
But on the third play, Gibson found a streaking Crawford over the middle for a 40-yard gain.
“We ran trips out to the left and it was just straight go routes, all three of us,” Crawford said. “We thought we’d throw off their defense and we did. I was wide open and it was a perfect pass by Gibby.”
On the final play of the half, Gibson faked a handoff to Kraft on a sweep right, looked left, then found Kraft wide-open on the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown pass.
“Johnny did a post on the outside and the corner ran with him and I was wide open,” Kraft said. “I just had to make sure I caught it.”
Gibson found Kraft again on the two-point conversion and the Redskins took a 28-14 lead into the half.
“Once we got a first down, we still had about two plays left,” Gibson said. “St. Marys was really slow getting out on the coverages. So when we went gun and spread them out, there was no one on him (Crawford) so you just lay it out there for him.
“Then Kevin made a great run and a great fake to set up the route for the touchdown.”
The real dagger came on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Sophomore kicker Bailey Hinegardner drove a line drive kick into the chest of one of the players on the Roughriders front line. The ball bounced right back to Hinegardner, who pounced on it at the Wapak 46.
Eight plays later, Gibson found Carder, who made an athletic leaping catch in the left side of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Junior Matt Ewing converted the PAT and Wapak led 35-14.
“That killed us,” Phillips said. “I think we were fine (before that).”
Roughriders senior tailback D.J. Manning, who came into the game averaging 35 carries and 245 yards per game, ran the ball just 23 times for 178 yards, only the second time he has been held to less than 200 yards this season.
“He’s a great running back and to even hold him under 200 is a pretty big accomplishment,” Frye said. “I want to compliment St. Marys, their coaches and their kids. They played extremely hard. They should be proud of the effort they displayed. And I think they’re going to win a lot more football games.”
Wapak’s Connor Pickens, in a reduced role, ran the ball just 14 times for 86 yards. But he scored touchdowns of four and 15 yards.
“We know the wing is always in our back pocket any time we want,” Frye said. “We’ve done a lot of that through the season and we can come back to that when needed.”