The Tigers used an effective, workmanlike effort to blank Elkhart Memorial 28-0 in Northern Lakes Conference play on a rainy night at Fisher Field.
Tristan McClone ran for 110 yards and two more touchdowns as the Tigers simply controlled the football and played keep away most of the night versus the winless Crimson Chargers.
Warsaw, which improves to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in NLC action, out gained Memorial 277-68. The Chargers, who now have been outscored 128-3 in an 0-4 start under first-year coach Bill Roggeman, ran just 12 plays and managed 11 yards of offense in the second half.
“It hit me at about 1:00 today that this is the first time in a long time that we’ve been expected to win,” said Warsaw coach Phil Jensen. “We did what we had to do tonight. Everybody did their job and we played Warsaw football.”
“This type of night is what we’re built for. I thought our kids were focused and did a good job. We had a lot of adversity this week with some things and our kids handled it well.”
Warsaw didn’t start the night so well. The hosts coughed up the football on their opening possession as McClone fumbled to give the Chargers the ball at the Warsaw 48.
The Tiger defense stopped Memorial cold on three plays to force a punt. Warsaw’s offense then answered the bell with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring march that culminated with McClone taking a toss sweep right for a four-yard touchdown. The drive, which saw quarterback Austin Head hit Taylor Cone with a big 32-yard pass play and the Tigers convert a fourth and three at the Memorial 13, took 6:37 off the clock.
“We have that fumble right away, but our defense steps up and stops them,” Jensen said. “And then our offense takes it to them.”
Warsaw put together a pair of short scoring drives, covering 31 and 45 yards, in the second quarter to lead 21-0 at halftime. The first was set up after Ben Plummer pounced on a Memorial fumble. McClone scored up the middle on a three-yard run to make it 14-0 and then with just 2:36 to play in the opening half, Head scored on a nine-yard keeper on a broken play after his tailback slipped and fell.
The Tigers, who won 28-13 at Memorial a year ago, added a final score with 4:37 left in the contest. Sophomore backup quarterback Jake Mangas lofted a gorgeous 10-yard touchdown toss to senior Adam Roberts in the back corner of the end zone on a fourth and goal play.
McClone, a junior, finished with 29 carries for 110 yards. He now has rushed for 693 yards and seven touchdowns in the first four games.
Plummer and Jason Taylor each had a fumble recovery for Warsaw.
The Tigers were without senior lineman Cameron Shepherd. The 6-3, 320-pounder missed the game due to an infection. Jensen said that Shepherd should be ready to go next week.
Memorial, which finished 5-6 in 2011, started junior Blake Kramer at quarterback. Senior Nick Youngs came on in the second quarter and was 6-9 passing for 30 yards.
Warsaw plays at Northridge and Memorial travels to Plymouth in NLC games next Friday night.