Times Bulletin photo
A Raider runner breaks away from a Paulding tackler during the Wayne Trace/Paulding game on Friday, August 28, in Paulding.
Times Bulletin photo A Raider runner breaks away from a Paulding tackler during the Wayne Trace/Paulding game on Friday, August 28, in Paulding.
BY KEVIN WANNEMACHER

Times Bulletin Staff

sports@timesbulletin.com

PAULDING - Derrick Baksa ran for 99 yards and passed for 87 more to lead Wayne Trace past county rival Paulding 23-12 at Keysor Field in the football opener for both schools Friday evening.

Baksa tossed touchdown passes of 16 and 10 yards to Jordan Sherry along with adding a five yard scoring toss to Gage Critten as the Raiders won their season opener for the first time in three years.

Wayne Trace head coach Bill Speller was more than pleased with the efforts of his senior quarterback.

"Derrick had a great game for us tonight," commented the Raider mentor. "He was able to create running the ball and did a nice job of finding the open receiver as well. He had an outstanding game tonight."

The Raiders jumped on top early, using a shanked punt to get tremendous field position at the Paulding 15-yard line. Two plays later, Baksa found Sherry for a 16-yard touchdown toss and a 7-0 Raider advantage.

"We were able to take advantage of some mistakes on their end," Speller noted. "We knew it would be a close game so we had to capitalize on opportunities."

Wayne Trace's second score was set up on a key Paulding penalty. A pass interference call against the Panthers moved the Raiders to the 12-yard line. The red, white and blue then pushed the margin to 10-0 after a 33-yard field by Jason Gordon with 2:24 left in the half.

Paulding put its best drive of the first half together on its ensuing possession. The Panthers marched 81 yards in nine plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run from Drey Gamble to get the hosts within 10-6 at the intermission.

"We told the guys we had been totally outplayed in the first half and we still were in position to win," commented Panther head coach Chris Etzler. "But we just made too many mistakes and had way too many missed tackles. You can't give second and third opportunities all night long and we did that."

The Raiders pushed the lead to 16-6 late in the third quarter after another big pass interference call against Paulding. Instead of facing a fourth and seven, Wayne Trace was awarded a first down at the Paulding nine yard line. Two plays later, Baksa found Sherry for a ten-yard touchdown pass for a 16-6 Wayne Trace lead with 3:13 left in the stanza.

"Coming into the game, we felt like we had to limit our mistakes and, for the most part, I felt we did that," Speller said. "We did a good job of not taking penalties. The one area we have to get better is the turnover battle."

Paulding closed to within 16-12 with 11:05 left in the contest. Vince Ross capped a six play, 34-yard drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone.

However, the Raiders would seal the win on the next possession. The red, white and blue put together a nine-play, 65-yard drive that took just under five minutes off of the clock. Baksa hooked up with Critten for a five-yard touchdown pass with 6:09 remaining to put Wayne Trace on top 23-12.

"I thought our line play was very solid tonight," concluded Speller. "We won the battle up front on both sides of the ball I thought. Overall, I am pleased with our performance tonight. We have areas to improve but we will work on that this week and get ready for Parkway."

"We will go back and practice this week and work hard to get better before next Friday," Etzler stated. "I thought we did show some positives but we definitely saw things that we have to improve on. And I think we will do that this week."

Baksa finished the night with 99 rushing yards on 15 carries while Dylan Horner added 88 yards on 19 tries for Wayne Trace. Ross picked up 83 yards on 19 attempts for the Panthers.

Through the air, Baksa completed all eight attempts while Paulding's Jordan Monnier was 6 of 17 for 80 yards.

Gordon and Critten each had three receptions for Wayne Trace. Jesse Glass, Justin Riley, Jack Carter, Ross and Wes Zeller all caught one pass for Paulding.

The Raiders will return to non-league play on Friday as Wayne Trace hosts Parkway. Paulding opens Northwest Conference action with Delphos Jefferson visiting Keysor Field.