SYRACUSE – Some nights, even when everything starts to go right, it still turns out all wrong.
That was the unfortunate case for the Warrior football team on Friday night. A rash of terribly-timed turnovers were back-breaking for Wawasee in a 52-17 defeat at the hands of 5A’s No.2 ranked Concord Minutemen Friday night in Syracuse.
The lone turnover in the second half is what was the turning point in the game for Tim Dawson, head coach of the Minutemen, “The big turning point in my mind was definitely the interception we had in the end zone down here after half time. We really just took control after that.”
Wawasee had played a hard-fought first half and went into the locker room trailing 24-10. The Warriors received the ball at half and drove down inside the Minutemen 20-yard line. While quarterback Gage Reinhard and the Wawasee offense had its sights set on a touchdown, Concord’s Brandon Thomas had other plans. Thomas intercepted a Reinhard pass in the end zone on third down to stop the Warrior scoring threat. It was the third Wawasee turnover of the game and second inside the red zone.
Concord turned Thomas’ interception into a score after Trevor Wilmore drove the Minutemen down the field and called his own number on a 22-yard touchdown run to blow the game open 31-10 in favor of the visitors.
Though the game got away from the Warriors in the second half, they certainly took it to the heavily favored Minutemen in the first half. Wawasee went all-in from the opening kick with an onside recovery to take the first possession of the game. Reinhard hit Clayton Cook three plays later for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Wawasee its first lead in a game over Concord since 2011. Reinhard finished the night with one touchdown and 181 yards through the air as well as 52 rushing yards. Cook had six receptions for 120 yards and the score.
The Minutemen responded with 17 unanswered points before a 26-yard field goal from Wawasee’s Nate Prescott ended the scoring run with just 36-seconds to play in the half. Concord used what little time was left before half and turned it into a last-second touchdown pass from Wilmore to Thomas, despite differing indications between the multiple officials on the field.
Though the score does not show it, the Warriors gave Concord all it could handle and the effort received a tip of the cap from Dawson, “Our boys dealt with some adversity tonight, but that’s good for your team to experience. Wawasee is a good team and had some great schemes tonight. They are probably the best team we have played so far.”
Certainly there were great moments for the Warriors tonight but the end result was not what head coach Josh Ekovich was looking for on Friday night, “Sometimes when it rains, it pours. Concord has potential to score every time they touch the ball and their athleticism is hard to compete with. What I felt it really came down to was depth. They were a deeper team and it showed at key points tonight.”
When looking ahead, Ekovich likes the potential he saw from his team on Friday night, “I feel like our kids played extremely hard and kept their poise a lot better tonight than they did a few weeks ago at St. Joe. We’re going to be a good team if we can keep getting better. There’s still a lot of things that we can work on but we are going in the right direction right now.”
Wawasee (1-3, 0-2) will travel to Nappanee next Friday to take on a traditionally tough NorthWood squad. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.