Van Wert advances with 40-7 win over Wauseon

Posted On: Saturday, October 29, 2022

Garett Gunter of Van Wert

 Wauseon gave Van Wert fans some anxious moments early, but the Cougars put it together in the last 25 minutes for a 40-7 win over the Indians in a Division IV Region 14 sectional semifinal. Van Wert is now 10-1. Wauseon’s season ends at 6-5.

Next up for the 6th-seeded Cougars is a 125-mile Friday trip to Erie County to take on 3rd-seeded Perkins. The Pirates (10-1) blasted River Valley 58-6 Friday night.

Both Van Wert and Wauseon punted on their first two possessions. Then the Cougars got a 35-yard punt return by senior Maddix Crutchfield to set them up in good field position at the Wauseon 31. Seven plays later senior quarterback Aidan Pratt took it in from the 8-yard line, and senior Damon McCracken booted the PAT to lead 7-0 with 4:49 on the clock.

On the ensuing kickoff the Indian receiver slipped and was nailed at his own 3-yard line by Van Wert sophomore Briston Wise. Then, punting from their own end zone, the Indians’ kick was fielded by Cougar junior Brylen Parker at the Wauseon 27 and run back to the 16, setting the home team up once more with excellent field position. Three plays later, Pratt took it in from the five, and McCracken made it 14-0 with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

Then the strong and accurate right arm of Wauseon’s junior quarterback Trey Parsons came into play. Parsons threw a perfect bomb into the arms of junior Tyson Rodriguez for a 56-yard score. Rodriguez’s PAT kick cut the margin to 14-7 with 11:44 remaining in the second quarter.

The teams then exchanged punts, but Pratt’s fumble gave the ball to the visitors on the Cougar 23 with 8:28 on the clock. Van Wert escaped, however, when senior defensive back Carson Smith picked off a Parsons pass in the end zone, and that’s when the game took a decisive turn in the Cougars’ favor.

The Van Wert offense got it in gear for the first time in a 65-yard 11-play drive that culminated in a 4-yard scoring shovel pass from Pratt to Crutchfield. McCracken’s PAT stretched the margin to 21-7 with only 57 seconds left in the half.

The unofficial first half stats were not typical for Van Wert. The Cougars had only 122 total yards to the Indians’ 117. That would change a lot in the last 24 minutes though.

Wauseon punted on the first possession of the second half. Then Pratt found a wide open receiver in senior Nate Phillips for a 30-yard score. McCracken hit on the PAT kick, and Cougar fans finally began to relax a bit — 28-7 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.

The Indians ran out of downs on their next possession. Van Wert then went on another sustained drive — 58 yards in 13 plays, ending with an 8-yard swing pass from Pratt to Parker. The PAT kick sailed wide left, but the Cougars had a comfortable 34-7 lead with 59 seconds left in the third.

A Parker punt return from the Van Wert 47 to the Wauseon 27 set the next TD up. Parker gained 25 yards on the next play, then followed it up with a 2-yard run into the end zone to lead 40-7. The PAT kick failed when McCracken slipped, but the running clock was in effect with 11:44 remaining in the game.

The Indians then mounted a threat, but Smith ended it with another interception in the end zone that he ran back all the way to the Van Wert 40.

Unofficially, Van Wert ended up with 318 total yards, unusually with more rushing (179) than passing (139). Pratt hit on 14 of 25 throws and ran 18 times for 61 yards. Parker had 15 carries for 110 yards.

Wauseon had 211 total yards. Parsons was 20 of 34 for 158 yards through the air.

Scoring summary

Van Wert 14 7 13 6 - 40

Wauseon 0 7 0 0 - 7

1st quarter

4:49 — Aidan Pratt (VW) — 8-yard run. PAT kick by Damon McCracken. 7-0.

1:30 — Pratt — 5-yard run. PAT kick by McCracken. 14-0.

2nd quarter

11:44 — Tyson Rodriguez (W) — 56-yard pass from Trey Parsons. PAT kick by Rodriguez. 14-7.

0:57 — Maddix Crutchfield (VW) — 4-yard shovel pass from Pratt. PAT kick by McCracken. 21-7.

3rd quarter

7:44 — Nate Phillips (VW) — 30-yard pass from Pratt. PAT kick by McCracken. 28-7.

0:59 — Brylen Parker (VW) — 8-yard pass from Pratt. PAT kick failed. 34-7.

4th quarter

11:40 — Parker — 2-yard run. PAT kick failed. 40-7.

Unofficial team statistics

First Downs: VW 24, W 7

Rushing Att/Yds: VW 37/179, W 14/53

Passing Comp/Att/Int: VW 14/25/0, W 20/34/2

Passing Yds: VW 139, W 158

Total Yds: VW 318, W 211

Original Article Courtesy to Times Bulletin

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