VAN WERT — OHSAA Division VI defending state champion Van Wert made a few more plays than Wapakoneta to win a 55-45 Western Buckeye League shootout Friday.

Redskins coach Travis Moyer praised his team for battling the Cougars (4-0 overall, 3-0 WBL) for 48 minutes.

“We came here and played an extremely good football team, and I am extremely proud of the effort of our kids,” Moyer said, “Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.”

Van Wert coach Keith Recker said Wapakoneta (2-2 overall, 2-1 WBL) gave his team a legitimate challenge.

“This was a great effort by both teams,” Cougars coach Keith Recker said. “We knew that Wapak was going to be our first real test with the team that they have. We were worried about their quarterback (Braeden Goulet), and he showed us why. Our game plan was not that good, and their game plan against us was great.”

 Van Wert held the upper hand for much of the first half in a game that saw the Cougars scoring touchdowns and Wapakoneta finding ways to  answer with the tying TD.

Trey Laudick took the opening kickoff and ran it back 98 yards for a Van Wert touchdown 10 seconds into the game.

It was that kind of night.

“It got our crowd into the game and it got our guys going,” Recker said. “It was a great start and momentum-setter for us.”

The end-to-end track meet began after the Redskins produced a big play of their own midway through the first quarter. WHS took over at its own 48 and used 10 seconds to tie the game on a Goulet’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Jace Mullen and a Nikane Ambos extra-point kick at the 7:39 mark.

Cougars quarterback Aidan Pratt, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior began leading Van Wert’s offensive onslaught with an 11-yard touchdown run to put VWHS back in front 14-7 with 5:57 left in the first quarter. After completing his night with four TD passes, Pratt has thrown 15 touchdowns and no interceptions this season.

“It was a gutsy effort by our offense to continue scoring after giving up a score,” Recker said. “Our quarterback, Aidan Pratt, continued to impress. What he did tonight was amazing. He played defensive end against a big, physical team like Wapak, and went back out there to play under center and do what he did, it was unbelievable.”

Wapakoneta tied the game at 14 late in the first quarter on 10-yard touchdown run from Mullen at the 1:10 mark. But Pratt and Van Wert needed only 20 seconds to retake a 20-14 lead on a 62-yard TD strike from Pratt to Brylen Parker. The PAT attempt failed.

Both defenses picked up stops on the next series for each team before the Redskins took their only lead of the contest. WHS marched 65 yards in three plays as Goulet supplied a 60-yard run to the end zone. After a successful extra-point kick from Ambos, Wapakoneta led 21-20 with 4:18 left before halftime.

“We came back and held a (21-20) lead in the second quarter, but we couldn’t get a stop on defense all night,” Moyer said. “To win a game like this, you have to make a stop eventually and it never came.”

The first half ended with Pratt completing a 19-yard TD pass to Maddix Crutchfield and a 2-point conversion run from Parker to hand the Cougars a 28-21 lead with 68 seconds showing before the break.

It didn’t take WHS long to rally.

Goulet ran 56 yards to the end zone on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to force a 28-all tie after an Ambos kick 17 seconds into the third quarter.

And the shootout was on.

Pratt capped the Cougars' next drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Gunter on fourth-and-goal, helping Van Wert to a 35-28 advantage.

It became 35-all tie a little more than midway through the third quarter, when Goulet ran two yards to the end zone at the 5:51 mark. An Ambos kick knotted the contest for the fourth time.

The teams traded TDs near the end of the third quarter, when Parker ran two yards across the goal line for a 42-35 Van Wert lead at the 3:20 mark. But the Redskins received a 52-yard TD run from Goulet and an Ambos PAT kick for 42-all tie at the 1:20 mark.

The Cougars led 49-42 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter, when Pratt’s 73-yard bomb to Gunter burned the WHS defense.

Wapakoneta got a little closer with 9:15 left, when a Kyle Beach field goal from 21 yards was successful for a 49-45 deficit for the Redskins.

But Van Wert sealed its win with a 65-yard drive that shaved close to five minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter, when Parker’s one-yard touchdown run came with 4:22 remaining.

VAN WERT 55, WAPAKONETA 45

Wapakoneta14721345
Van Wert 20821655

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

VW—Trey Laudick 98 kickoff return (Connor Pratt kick), 11:50.

W—Jace Mullen 52 pass from Braeden Goulet (Nikane Ambos kick), 7:39.

VW—Aidan Pratt 11 run (Connor Pratt kick), 5:57.

W—Jace Mullen 10 run (Nikane Ambos kick), 1:10.

VW—Brylen Parker 62 pass from Aidan Pratt (Connor Pratt kick failed), 0:55.

Second Quarter

W—Braeden Goulet 60 run (Nikane Ambos kick), 4:18.

VW—Maddix Crutchfield 19 pass from Aidan Pratt (Connor Pratt kick), 1:08.

Third Quarter

W—Braeden Goulet 56 run (Nikane Ambos kick), 11:43.

VW—Garrett Gunter 3 pass from Aidan Pratt (Connor Pratt kick), 8:46.

W—Braeden Goulet 2 run (Nikane Ambos kick), 5:51.

VW—Brylen Parker 2 run (Connor Pratt kick), 3:20.

W—Braeden Goulet 52 run (Nikane Ambos kick), 1:20.

VW—Garrett Gunter 73 pass from Aidan Pratt (Connor Pratt kick), 11:43.

Fourth Quarter

W—Kyle Beach 21 field goal, 9:15.

VW—Brylen Parker 1 run (Connor Pratt kick failed), 4:22.

TEAM STATISTICSWVW
First Downs1629
Third-Down Efficiency4-119-16
Fourth-Down Efficiency2-21-3
Total Net Yards454582
Rushes-Yards38-32940-271
Passing Yards125311
Comp.-Att.-Int.6-13-022-28-0
Sacked-Yards Lost0-00-0
Punts-Avg.3-23.01-23.0
Fumbles-Lost0-00-0
Penalties-Yards6-404-45
Time of Possession22:0925:51

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Wapakoneta (Braeden Goulet 12-221, Jace Mullen 15-69, Joey Truesdale 5-23, Zach Rogers 1-6, Jace Knous 1-6, Connor Meckstroth 4-4); Van Wert (Aidan Pratt 18-119, Nate Jackson 14-98, Brylen Parker 8-54).

PASSING—Wapakoneta (Braeden Goulet 6-13-0-125); Van Wert (Aidan Pratt 22-28-0-311).

RECEIVING—Wapakoneta (Kaleb Walter 3-56, Jace Mullen 1-52, Kaden Siefring 1-10, Tyler Houser 1-7); Van Wert (Garrett Gunter 4-85, Connor Pratt 4-82, Maddix Crutchfield 7-70, Brylen Parker 3-69, Trey Laudick 1-4, Nate Jackson 3-1).

MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.

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