The Waverly Tigers continued their playoff push as they traveled to Minford and defeated the Falcons, 43-13. Waverly started the game off strong as they were able to find success on the ground and through the air on their first possession. Waverly quarterback Haydn Shanks put the first points on the board as he completed a touchdown pass to senior Easton Wolf. After a successful two point conversion, the Waverly Tigers went up 8-0 with nine minutes to go in the first quarter.
Minford looked to answer back as they started their first drive of the game. After finding some early success with their running game, Minford’s first drive grinded to a halt as they were stopped on a 4th and short conversion attempt deep into Tigers territory. The Tigers looked to extend their early lead as they took the ball over on downs.
Waverly running back Ethan Brooker took over the second drive for the Tigers as they drove the ball into the Minford red zone. Waverly drove the ball all the way down to the one yard line and put the Falcons defense on their heels. But a costly false start penalty backed the Tigers up and forced them to attempt to convert a 4th and goal from the six yard line. Shanks delivered for the Tigers again though as he completed the 6 yard touchdown pass on 4th down to give the Tigers the 15-0 lead with 2:50 to go in the first quarter.
Minford got a much needed spark on special teams as kick returner Matthew Risner broke off a huge 70 yard return and came just short of taking the ball all the way back for the touchdown. Minford head coach Jesse Ruby knows when Risner has the ball, he can expect big plays to follow, “He is always a big play athlete for us as he can make big plays in all three phases of the game: offensively, defensively, and on special teams.”
The Falcons would be deep in Waverly territory as they tried to cut into the Tigers lead. Probably the biggest momentum shift of the game happened next as Falcons quarterback Kelton Kelley fumbled the ball on Minford’s first play of the drive.
The Tigers mounted another dominant drive as they utilized quick out routes to get the ball in their receivers’ hands. Haydn Shanks had his third touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 22-0 to end the 1st quarter. Waverly continued to dominate the game on both sides of the ball in the first half as Shanks added another passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown to his already crowded score sheet as he threw for a total of 205yards to go with five passingtouchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
Waverly head coach Chris Crabtree couldn’t have been more proud of how well his quarterback has done this year. “He’s definitely done a great job as a sophomore, he’s shown great poise and hasn’t got rattled. He has got great people around him as the guys’ upfront do a good job of keeping him clean. He just comes out and executes to the best of his ability.”
Minford’s lone bright spot of the half came at the end of the 2nd quarter as Kelly broke off a huge 46 yard run to down the ball at the Tigers one yard line. After some nice defensive stands by Waverly’s defense, Kelly punched the ball in to give the Falcons their first score of the game with 3:24 to go in the first half. Going into halftime, the Tigers lead 37-7.
Waverly picked up where they left off in the first half as Haydn shanks scored another touchdown to put his team up 43-7 and going on to win the game by a final score of 43-13. Crabtree hopes his team can keep this momentum going as they try to finish the season on a strong note heading into the playoffs, “We wanted to go out and finish our league play strong. We have one more non-league game, but we always want to finish strong as it looks like we will have some playoff opportunities and we want to go in there on a winning path.”
Waverly will finish off their regular season with a home battle against Logan in hopes for a senior night victory to cap off a strong season.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT