LIGONIER – “They weren’t expecting this!”
Those words, uttered by West Noble junior Turner Patrick in the second quarter, became a marching cry Friday night for the Chargers in a stunning 31-14 win over Wawasee Friday night.
Both teams, riding tremendous momentum from week one victories, started in complete opposite speeds. Wawasee, which needed just three plays last week to score on Lakeland, lost a fumble on its first possession, then punted on its next two. West Noble stole the moves from Wawasee, with Chase Wroblewski hitting Josh Gross across the middle for a 48-yard completion inside the 10 on its first play. Wroblewski snuck in the final seven yards on the next play, and quickly it was 6-0.
After West Noble blocked Wawasee’s second punt, Brandon Pruitt motored in from 19 yards on the first play of the second quarter, making it 12-0.
Wawasee got a score back when Evan Eshbach whistled a crossing route to Jacob Hand for a 71-yard pitch and catch. But West Noble answered right back, marching right down the field. Spencer Shrock had a long touchdown called back, but West Noble made it back to a fourth and goal at the one, plunged in by Wroblewski, to make it 18-7.
Hand and Wawasee had a golden chance to get back in the game in the third quarter, but the usually sure-handed Hand dropped a gimme interception with no one within 10 yards of him. Still at 18-7, the quick hit was a microchasm of the Warriors’ night.
The Chargers would put the game out of reach in the fourth, Wroblewski finding Shrock for a 35-yard touchdown pass and Pruitt scored again from 17 yards out.
“Pruitt is the type of kid who deserves everything he gets,” said West Noble head coach Monty Mawhorter of Pruitt, who also had a big sack to end the first half and disrupted several plays on defense. “He is going to give you everything he’s got in the game. It’s not about just him, he doesn’t care if he gets a yard, but he does so many things well. A lot of the things that don’t go on the stat sheet. What a ballgame he had tonight.”
Aaron Evans accounted for Wawasee’s other touchdown, a 65-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
West Noble had 318 yards of total offense to Wawasee’s 184 – 136 of the Warriors’ total came on its two scoring plays. Wroblewski accounted for 161 total yards and Pruitt rushed for 125 yards. Gross had three catches for 63 yards and Shrock had 57 receiving yards on four catches.
West Noble also kept the chains moving, getting 20 first downs to just four for Wawasee.
“I don’t know how to explain things other than the fact that we didn’t come out ready to play,” said Wawasee head coach Mike Eshbach. “They came out and sort of popped us in the mouth. Maybe we felt a little too good about ourselves, and certainly underestimated them to a degree. We knew they were a quality football team, but at the same time, I think a couple of our kids were too overconfident and a couple breaks didn’t go our way. It steamrolled from there.”
West Noble starts 2-0 for the first time since 2005, and has only been at this point twice in the past 33 years.
“We still have to go after it one thing at a time,” Mawhorter said. “It’s nice to be 2-0, but these kids will have to come back to practice Monday and work at fixing things and getting better. Because if we don’t play well against Eastside, this win doesn’t mean much. This group is not as good as it can be, and I don’t know where their level will be. We lack a little in size, but we have speed and we swarm to the football.”
Bright spots for the Warriors (1-1) included two blocked extra points, a blocked field goal and two two-point tries stopped. Eshbach, however, wasn’t in the mood for small victories.
“We start over. We start over,” said Eshbach, who will start preparing for the Northern Lakes Conference schedule with Tom Wogomon’s 2-0 Northridge team waiting Friday in Middlebury. “There’s no working on this or that, we start over. We start over in a lot of different ways. We thought the key to the game would be up front and they beat us on both sides of the ball.”