DUNLAP – When the Wawasee football team stepped onto Jake Field for its Northern Lakes Conference contest against Concord, it was all business. After all, the Warriors had something to prove after getting shutout at home in their last contest.
Wawasee knew it had to bring its best game to take on the No. 2 ranked team in class 5A on Friday night, and in many ways the Warriors did just that. But when Wawasee did slip up, Concord was right there to make the Warriors pay every time as the Minutemen would claim their eleventh straight victory over Wawasee, 44-21.
While plenty of plays helped shape the outcome of this NLC contest, the most important sequence happened over a few minutes in the third quarter. Wawasee’s defense played the most physical it has all season and that was highlighted by a huge fourth down stop against the Minutemen with just over six minutes to play in the third.
Trailing 17-13 after the big stop, the Warrior offense took over and marched down into Concord territory. Momentum was clearly on Wawasee’s side and a score was all but certain until Jace Krull sacked Wawasee quarterback Gage Reinhard, resulting in a fumble that Concord recovered with 4:14 left in the quarter. This was the beginning of the end for Wawasee’s upset bid.
Concord’s Cullen Fisher connected with Jerrell Pointdexter for a 19-yard touchdown strike to put Concord up 24-13 with 2:18 to play in the third. It was the duo’s second scoring connection of the night. Wawasee’s offense stalled out on the ensuing drive and punted away to Brandon Thomas who then ran 58 yards for the score, breaking the game open for the Minutemen with 1:06 on the clock. In three minutes and eight seconds Wawasee went from “driving for the lead” to “down by 18.”
“Concord made the big plays and we didn’t,” Wawasee head coach Josh Ekovich stated. “That was the difference in the game. With a few minutes left in the third, we’re only down four points. But, that’s the type of team that Concord is, they have explosive play makers that can take you out of a game very quickly.”
Fisher led that group of play makers as he would account for 282 yards of offense, throwing for two scores and rushing for three. Wawasee rushed for 146 yards with Nathan Katzer leading the way with 72 yards. Katzer also had Wawasee’s second score of the evening, a three-yard rumble in the second quarter.[*** ERROR: Weaver X-Plus Shortcoder undefined id: 'spo-photo' *** ]
Reinhard threw for 173 yards and ran for 36. Reinhard’s 33-yard strike in the first quarter to Sam Clark was the Warriors first score of the night. Clark finished with 80 receiving yards. Clayton Cook led the team with four receptions, including an incredible grab over the head of a Concord defender.
“We talked a lot about effort this week,” said Ekovich. “If you don’t touch on that then things can snowball on you in games. Our guys had great effort tonight, they played very hard, we just didn’t capitalize on some opportunities.”
Wawasee was led defensively by Stephen Possell’s seven tackles. Austin Rhodes led the Warriors with one sack while Cameron Adams blocked an extra-point attempt on the Minutemen.
Looking ahead to next week Wawasee (2-2, 0-2) will welcome NorthWood (3-1, 1-1) to Warrior Field. Wawasee won last year’s contest in Nappanee, 21-16. Concord (4-0, 3-0) will host Goshen (0-4, 0-2). Both contests start at 7:30 p.m.