The Waverly Tigers returned to their regular offensive form Friday night as they were able to defeat the Portsmouth West Senators, 35-19.
On the Tigers first drive of the game, they were able to move the ball down the field before being forced to try a 32 yard field goal attempt which would give them the 3-0 lead with 7:37 left in the first quarter.
West moved the ball efficiently until Dylan Bradford fumbled the ball on a 3rd and 7 attempt from the Tigers 24 yard line.
After the forced turnover, Waverly was able to gain three first downs before quarterback Haydn Shanks found wide receiver Phoenix Wolf for a 28 yard touchdown pass to give Waverly the lead 9-0 after the missed extra point.
Garrett Hurd’s longest carry of the night went for 43 yards to the Tigers 12 yard line on the Senators next possession. On the following play, senior playmaker Josh Berry took the end around handoff around the edge of the Waverly defense for a 12 yard touchdown rush with 9:34 left in the second quarter, cutting their deficit to 9-7.
That two point deficit wouldn’t last long, however, as Shanks was able to find wide receiver Cobe Marquez in the end zone for a 34 yard touchdown pass to extend Waverly’s lead to 15-7 with 8:47 left in the second quarter after their two point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The Senators were not able to do anything on their ensuing possession, forcing them to punt the ball. After forcing the Tigers to punt after a three and out offensive series, Trevor Staggs was able to recover Waverly’s Payton Shoemaker’s blocked punt and take it into the end zone to cut their deficit to two once again at 15-13 after Garrett Hurd was denied close to the goal line on the two point conversion attempt.
Three and outs from both teams on their upcoming possessions gave Waverly the ball on their own 31 yard line with 1:28 left in the first half. After a pass interference call set up the Tigers on the Senators side of the field, Shanks was able to find Phoenix Wolf’s brother, Easton, for a 42 yard touchdown strike to extend Waverly’s lead to 22-13 after the made PAT with just 23 seconds remaining before the halftime whistle.
Coming out of the half, Waverly was able to force the Senators to punt from midfield. Attempting to extend their lead, Waverly assumed possession at their own 14 yard line. Two plays after fielding the punt, Shoemaker found a seam in West’s defense which allowed him to rush 68 yards for a touchdown to give his team the lead at 28-13 following the failed two point attempt with 8:07 left in the third quarter.
A few punts later and West had an opportunity to narrow the gap as they took over on the Waverly 36 yard line. A solid offensive drive was capped off with a Dylan Bradford quarterback sneak from the 1 yard line to cut Waverly’s lead to 28-19 with :31 seconds left in the third quarter after the missed PAT.
Waverly received the ball on the ensuing kickoff and did what they do best: get the ball to their playmakers. After a long sustained drive, Shanks once again found Easton Wolf for a touchdown, this time from 27 yards out to give Waverly the 35-19 lead with 9:43 left in the game. Shanks finished the game 17/26 with 285 yards passing and four passing touchdowns. Easton Wolf led all Waverly receivers with six receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Neither side was able to put points on the board in the final nine minutes of the contest, sealing the Senators fate as they were dealt their second loss of the season.
“They made big plays and we weren’t able to possess the ball as much as we would have liked to on offense” said Senators head coach Ben Johnson following their loss Friday night, “We hurt ourselves with some penalties. Hats off to their kids, they made big plays all night long.”
Tigers head coach Chris Crabtree was happy to see his team perform at the level that have been for much of the regular season. “You don’t get a redo most of the time” said Crabtree, “Last week, I don’t we performed at our highest level. Tonight, we had an opportunity to redeem ourselves and show people that we’re a good football team. I was very happy with our ability to step up against West’s physicality. I thought we were able to do a good job withstanding some of their best shots. And we were able to get some points on the board and let our offense do its’ thing. Hats off to Coach Johnson and the West side. It was just a great football game on both sides of the ball.”
The Senators will have an extra day of practice before their Saturday game against Wheeling Central Catholic next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Lakewood High School. “The only reaction you can have from this game is to learn from it and get better” said Johnson, “We’ll take a look at the film and see exactly what happened and see what we could have done differently. We’ll learn from it, we’ll grow, and we’ll move forward from here.”
As for Waverly, they will begin to prepare for their third SOC game in as many weeks as they will travel to Minford to play the 6-2 Falcons in their week nine matchup. “We can’t be satisfied with this” said Crabtree, “We were able to win another SOC game, we just have to take this and build upon it, get prepared and ready to go.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT