HUBER HEIGHTS — Daryl McCleskey racked up 242 all-purpose yards and L’Christian Smith grabbed seven pass receptions for 156 yards and a TD to lead Wayne to a 38-0 shutout of visiting Northmont 38-0 in a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division matchup Friday night.
McCleskey was all over the field scoring on a big touchdown run, catching two passes for extended gains and was a nightmare for Northmont, running back punts and kick offs. One punt return that McCleskey ran back all the way for a touchdown was called back on a penalty or the damage done would have been even more severe.
“He’s the real deal, “said Wayne Coach Jay Minton. “The plays that young man makes are phenomenal.”
If there was any doubt as to how Wayne would approach playing a team that was just 1-6 it was removed. Wayne was all business as they recorded their third shut-out of the season and improved to 8-0. Northmont came out swinging and in their first possession put together one of the best drives by a Wayne opponent this season. Though Northmont threatened several times to score in the game it was Wayne that continually won the battle at the line of scrimmage. The Wayne defense smothered the rushing attack of Northmont holding them to just 10 yards total on the ground.
“We knew they were going to fight, “said Coach Minton. “We knew they had great athletes. Sometimes you just have to play and not freak out. We attribute that to our coaches, assistant coaches and our leadership on the field.”
Wayne’s first score was set up when Messiah DeWeaver connected on a 30-yard pass to Daryl McCleskey that moved the ball down to the 3-yard line. Two plays later, Antwand Wilson carried the ball into the end zone for a touchdown to give Wayne a 7-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
Late in the first quarter Northmont intercepted a Wayne pass that put them in scoring position once again. The Wayne defense stood strong as Northmont was held to a field goal attempt that missed.
In the second quarter, DeWeaver connected with Fred Pitts for a 19-yard catch. Pitts made a great run after the catch avoiding a near takedown to tight rope his way into the end zone for a touchdown to extend Wayne’s lead to 14-0 with 5:52 left in the second quarter.
Northmont mounted another drive moving the ball to the Wayne 2-yard line. On a third-and-goal, Mazon Walker and Mikal Tolliver made the key tackle that caused a Northmont fumble and a Dean Yoho recovery to give the ball back to Wayne.
“When we got the fumble and held them scoreless, that was key, “said Coach Minton. “That was big for our defense, especially to get another shutout like that. You know you’re playing good defense when you do that.”
“As a defensive back my job is easy, “said Wayne defensive captain Tobias Gilliam. “I think we have the best front seven in Ohio, so my job is easy.”
On Wayne’s next drive, Smith was the main target of three DeWeaver passes. The third was the charm, going for 58 yards and a touchdown to extend the lead to 21-0 with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
“He’s doing what we expect him to do, “said Coach Minton in regards to Smith. “We expect him to make plays even though he is just a sophomore. We expect so much out of him and he delivers all the time.”
To open the third quarter, McCleskey ran back the kick-off for 30 yards. On the very next play McCleskey took the hand off and ran for an electrifying 67-yard touchdown with 11:40 left in the quarter to extend Wayne’s lead to 28-0.
“When a play don’t go right, you’ve got to make something out of nothing, “said McCleskey concerning his 67-yard TD run. “I cut the right way and made a play for our team.”
On Wayne’s next possession, McCleskey returned the Northmont punt for 39 yards to set up a Nate Strong 32-yard field goal with 9:14 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 31-0.
Wayne’s final score was set up by a DeWeaver pass to Smith, who made a diving catch near the side line for 37 yards to put Wayne in scoring position at the Northmont 3-yard line. This time Antwand Wilson got the call and carried for a 1-yard touchdown, his second TD, with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter.
DeWeaver completed 11 of 19 passes for 272 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception, Nate Strong was perfect on four extra point attempts and connected on a 32yard field goal for Wayne to contribute to the victory.
Wayne (8-0) will be at Beavercreek (6-2) in a key GWOC Central Division battle at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.
Reach Stephen Granata by contacting editor Greg Smart at 684-8088.