Van Wert’s Chris Miller carries the ball in a game at Wapak Friday. The Cougars fell to teh Redskins 35-0. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
BY NICK JOHNSON
Times Bulletin Correspondent
WAPAKONETA - The Van Wert Cougar football team traveled to Harmon Field in Wapak to take on the Redskins Friday night, but fell to the hosts 35-0.
The Redskins got the ball to start the game and quickly picked up two first downs before the Cougar defense stopped them at midfield to force a punt.
The Cougar offense started slow, as freshman running back Justice Tussing was stopped for little to no yards on two carries. After that, Van Wert was forced to punt, but the punt was tipped by a Redskins defender which gave Wapak great field position.
It took the Redskins three plays to score, including a 27-yard pass from quarterback Kodi Morgan to running back Alex Greve, which led to a Greve 10-yard touchdown run with 4:46 left in the first quarter. After kicker Matt Ewing added the extra point, it was 7-0 Wapak.
On the next Cougar drive, they tried to attack the Redskin defense through the air but were unsuccessful as quarterback Tyler Williams failed to connect with wideout Chris Miller and wideout Terrence Branson. On the next couple of drives, neither team could get anything going.
Midway through the second quarter, the Redskins went on an 11-play, 61-yard drive capped with a one-yard quarterback sneak by Morgan with 4:51 left in the second quarter. After a Ewing extra point, it was 14-0 Wapak.
After Van Wert went three and out, the Redskin offense went on another big drive, this time it was 10 plays and 67 yards. This one was capped when running back Jensen Merricle ran a wheel route out of the backfield which caught the Cougars off guard. Morgan found Merricle for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 left in the first half. Ewing finished off the drive with an extra point to bring the score to 21-0 Redskins.
The Cougars got the ball to start the second half, but after a six-yard run by Williams, they were forced to punt. Wapak needed one play to score the first points of the second half when Merricle dashed down the middle of the field for a 42-yard touchdown run with 10:13 left in the third quarter. The score was 28-0, Redskins, after Ewing connected on the extra point.
After Van Wert recovered a Redskin fumble in the red zone, Williams connected with tightend Logan Ray on a play action pass for 66 yards, but the Cougars couldn't score a touchdown on the next couple plays and turned the ball over on downs.
After back-to-back turnovers by both teams, the Cougars connected again on a big play when Williams found Branson on a 45-yard bomb to put them in scoring position. But on the next play, Williams' pass was picked by Greve to end the Cougar threat.
After a couple of punts by both teams, the Cougars got the ground game going when Williams took a quarterback keeper for a 13-yard gain and a first down. The Cougars offense followed that with a jet sweep when Miller was able to cut it back to middle field which was wide open. But a bad snap on the next play ended the Van Wert drive.
Wapak drove the length of the field to add the final score of the game when Morgan found tight end Brandon Christler for a 36-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute on the clock. After a Ewing extra point, it was 35-0 Redskins.
The Cougars tried to reach the end zone with seconds left on the clock when Williams again went deep to Branson, this one for 40 yards with little time left on the clock. After a couple shots at the end zone the clock struck zeroes.
"I wondered if we were a little hesitant against them at first. So, I'm not sure if we were ready right away. We came out and played well. We just can't get anything going offensively, so that been a really struggle all year. And defensively we were solid at times but three missed assignment give up 21 points. You can't miss assignments against a good team," said Van Wert coach Keith Recker.
The Cougars weren't able to finish off drives. "We know if we are going to get anything going offense, it's going to be by the big play, and unfortunely we were unable to score off of those big plays tonight. If we are going to get anything going as an offense it has to be the big play, because right now we can't drive the ball down the field," added Recker.
With the win on Friday night the Redskins improve to 5-3 on the year and 4-3 in WBL play. The Cougars continue the losing streak as they drop to 0-8 on the season and 0-7 in WBL play.