WAYNESFIELD — Both Patrick Henry and Waynesfield-Goshen came into Friday's game coming off of reeling losses and looking for a way to bounce back. Both teams were still in the thick of the postseason. It was the Patriots who were more prepared as they improved their playoff stock with a resounding 35-0 victory over the Tigers.
The effort was there for both teams, but Patrick Henry simply brought a team packing plenty of beef on the line both ways, and as a result they controlled the line of scrimmage all night long. That dominance on the line of scrimmage was all the Patriots needed in grinding their way to the win.
"I thought we did the two things we needed to do tonight, Patrick Henry head coach Bill Inselmann said after the game. "We controlled the line of scrimmage. And we took care of the ball. When you have this kind of weather, you have to do those two things."
The constant rain provided for a muddy playing surface, but it didn't seem to phase the Patriot backfield most of the night. A five-pronged rushing attack carried the ball 48 times for 320 yards, led by feature back Tobey Hernandez' 136 yards. The Tigers, on the other hand, only netted three yards rushing on 34 carries, and only had three first downs on the night. Two of those first downs came on pass interference penalties, and the other on a 27-yard pass completion to Dylan Little. Not the kind of night a team wants when the ground game has been their bread and butter most of the season.
"They were amazingly strong up front," W-G head coach Gary Spencer said. "I thought we played good enough defensively. They were just too strong up front."
The Patriot offensive line was able to keep the Tiger defense on its heals most of the night, resulting in long drives that allowed them to keep possession of the ball most of the night. Just when it seemed the Tigers finally had Patrick Henry stopped in their tracks, they would break off a play to convert the first down on third-and-middle and third-and-long situations.On their first drive, they converted a fourth down conversion and third down conversion to score. On the night, the Patriots converted four third-down situations and four first-down situations.
It appeared the Tigers might go into the half still in the game trailing only 14-0, but Hernandez ended a long drive with about a minute to go by bursting for 12 yards to make it 20-0.
Quarterback Gabe Jones put the game out of reach with a 14 yards score late in the third quarter, and the second-string offense added window dressing when Brandon Cole scored on a six-yard run with two minutes remaining.
Gabe Hennon quietly snuck by the 1,000 yard mark for the season with a three-yard run at the eight minute mark in the third quarter. He finished with 13 carries for 44 yards, but the rest of the rushing game went backwards, influenced largely by eight quarterback sacks by the Patriot defense that accounted for a loss of 54 yards.
Inselmann said he was happy with his team's response. After flying out of the gate at 6-0, the team had lost back to back games for the first time in 12 years the last two weeks.
"It was the first time we had lost back to back games since 2000," Inselmann said. "We were reeling. We didn't have a good practice on Tuesday but they seemed to pick it up Wednesday. I think we got ourselves back on track.
As rough as the last two weeks have been for the Tigers, they still face a real chance at a playoff spot in week 10. However, to do that, they need to sneak a win out against Dayton Christian on the road, a team that brings in a perfect 9-0 record and has outscored their opponents by an average score of 53-12. The closest anyone has came was a 72-40 win over Preble Shawnee.
"The kids know what is in front of them," Spencer said.