SPRINGFIELD — The Wayne defense stopped two red-zone attempts to shut-out Springfield 35-0 in a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division match-up at Springfield’s Evans Stadium.
The rainy, windy conditions did not deter Wayne from continuing their hot streak as they improved to a record of 6-0. A stingy Wayne defense, ranked No.1 in the GWOC, held Springfield to -13 yards total rushing and 57 yards passing, helping to put the Wayne offense in scoring position throughout the night. The one-two punch of Wayne’s defense and the offense, which had a total of 417 yards, was too much for Springfield, who battled hard and remained within striking distance in the first half of play.
“Playing as a unit is a key, “said defensive coordinator Pat Wood. “It’s not just one person; everybody is doing their role as a defense, that’s what is making us a better defense.”
The defense was led by Alex Otto’s eight tackles (2 solo, 6 assists), while Mazon Walker, Alex Reigelsperger, Wendell Weaver and Dabeon Holt contributed with one sack each.
Wayne struck first on a Messiah DeWeaver pass to Matt Wilcox for a 26-yard TD to give Wayne the lead 7-0 with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter.
As Springfield built steam and moved the ball down field, Wayne sophomore Alex Reigelsperger sacked the quarterback for a 9-yard loss that turned a promising drive into a punt.
On Wayne’s next possession DeWeaver connected on a pass that zipped through a defender and right into the hands of L’Christian Smith for a 13-yard touchdown strike with four seconds in the first quarter to extend the lead to 14-0.
In the second quarter, Springfield took over the ball after a Wayne missed field goal and began to put together a drive all the way down to the Wayne 14-yard line. On the next play as it seemed momentum was shifting in Springfield’s favor, Mazon Walker got a key sack that force a fourth-and-11 in the red-zone. Springfield failed to convert on an incomplete pass giving the ball back to Wayne to end the half with a slim 14-0 lead.
“My team needed a turnover, “said Walker. “I felt it was time for me to come up with one.” “It’s a team effort; we try to go week by week.”
“I think that was the big play of the game,” said Coach Jay Minton. “When a team is driving and they don’t come up with any points at all, it’s key, it takes a lot of wind out of their sails.”
The momentum shifted back to Wayne as Daryl McCleskey recovered a Springfield fumble on the opening kick-off of the third quarter to put Wayne in great scoring position. The turnover set up a DeWeaver 11-yard touchdown pass to Wilcox for his second of the night to extend the lead to 21-0 with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Wayne again took advantage of a Springfield mishap on a punt attempt when the ball was snapped over the punters head resulting in Wayne taking over at the Springfield 17-yard line. Wayne capitalized on their field position as McCleskey scampered into the end-zone for a 17-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 28-0 with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
Springfield would again fail to capitalize in the red-zone, this time on a recovery of a Wayne fumble on a punt that gave Springfield the ball on the Wayne 15-yard line. With a fourth-and-seven at the 11, Springfield threw an incomplete pass.
On the first play of Wayne’s possession, McCleskey broke free down the right side line for an explosive 89-yard touchdown run, his second of the night, with 11:18 remaining in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 35-0. This was the knock-out punch to give Wayne the decisive victory over Springfield who dropped to a 2-4 record.
Daryl McCleskey was a double threat, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns on offense while contributing a fumble recovery on special teams.
Messiah DeWeaver threw three touchdown passes and Matt Wilcox had eight receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wayne’s offense.
“I can see it coming together, “said Coach Minton. “Hopefully we peak at the right time.”
“Our offense is really gelling well and our defense has been lights out, that’s what wins you championships,” said Minton.
Wayne (6-0) will be in action at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct, 9, at Fairmont (2-4) in another GWOC contest.
Reach Stephen Granata by contacting Greg Smart at 684-8088 or on Twitter @HHCourier.com