MIDDLEBURY – Wawasee head coach Jon Reutebuch admitted after his team lost to Northridge, 27-0, he hadn’t gameplanned for Caid Lacey. Northridge head coach Tom Wogomon also admitted he didn’t expect his running back to impact the game as he did.
That might be a lesson to those who have the Raiders on the schedule in the coming weeks.
Lacey ran for 217 yards on 27 carries, looking more like Eddie Lacy in his Crimson Tide days that just one of the several that make up Northridge’s rotation of backs. Lacey punished Wawasee both inside and outside, as evident on his first of three touchdowns on the night. Lacey shed off at least four would-be Wawasee tacklers on a highlight reel 34-yard run to paydirt in the second quarter to open the scoring.
After Wawasee fumbled on the opening drive of the second half, Lacey carried all three times of the 26-yard drive, capping with a 12-yard scoring rumble. Lacey later mimicked his first touchdown with a punishing 25-yard score.
“We weren’t looking at any particular individual, we were looking for what they ran, trap and power,” Reutebuch said. “That’s what Tom is known for anyway. I coached with Tom and that’s what they did. There weren’t any tricks or any unusual plays. They just made plays when they had to make them and just hard-nosed running the football.”
Lacey’s 217 yards were just part of a 360-yard rushing attack for the Raiders. Ridge ran the ball 68 times in what has become a trademark Wogomon offense, with nine different players getting at least one carry. Dominic Crowder had 41 yards, Oliver Eveler added 35 and Justin Puckett picked up some key yards in the second half to keep the clock moving.
Eveler also had a nice 33-yard scoring pass to Breckin Judd on a fade route in the second quarter.
“Boy, I’d hate tackling him,” joked Wogomon about Lacey. “That guy played so well. At halftime we said man, we need to play everybody the way Caid Lacey is playing right now. He was just a battering ram, just refused to go down. He plays bigger than what his weight is. I think he is about 175 if that, but he just plays so powerful. I am glad he is wearing our helmet and our jersey. I would not like to tackle or defend him.”
Northridge was masterful Friday night in controlling the clock, holding the ball for over 36 minutes of the game. The Raiders also converted 12 of 19 third down attempts in the game while Wawasee was 0-7 in third down attempts.
“That’s what we are trying to do and establish,” Wogomon said of his offense holding the ball for long stretches. “We made some mistakes that we hadn’t made the first two weeks. Just little things that were drive killers, we’d go back five, a couple times we were able to overcome and get the first down. I love watching long play drives, when we’re on the offensive side. I hate it on the defensive side to defend it. We were just moving.”
While the game got away from Wawasee in the second half, it could have been a completely different game as the first half was coming to a close. Ridge was up 14-0 trying to run out the half, but was forced to punt. After Cam Waters picked off a Parker Young pass, Wawasee returned favor when Dante Landeros forced a fumble from Lacey, with Nathan Larson recovering at the Northridge 38.
A pass from Young to Ethan Garza had Wawasee in business at the Ridge 12, but a tipped pass on the next play had Tanner Baber grab the jump ball and get the Raiders out of danger.
Wawasee’s offense was stuck in neutral all night, gaining just 60 total yards on 28 plays. Wawasee’s leading rusher was Ray Lenior, who had an eight-yard rush on the final play of the game, his only carry of the night.
“We can’t get off the field on third down, that’s the bottom line,” Reutebuch said. “We have to get some stops and it’s pretty obvious when they put together 13-14 play drives, that not only wears out the defense, but a lot of those guys are also playing offense. We couldn’t get anything going offensively, seems like every time we had a break or had a play, we had a penalty or an injury or something going on.”
Northridge moves to 3-0 on the season and preps for a showdown with Plymouth, the Rockies fresh off a five-point win at Warsaw. Wawasee falls to 1-2 and will look to heal up in anticipation of hosting 3-0 Concord next week, the Minutemen a 10-point winner over NorthWood at the Jake.