By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – For the first two weeks of the season, everything Wawasee wanted to do on the football field worked.
On Friday night, Northridge made Wawasee feel like Lakeland and West Noble did.
The Raiders put the clamps on the Warriors in a major way, holding the hosts to just 62 total yards in a 20-0 shutout at Warrior Field.
In six first half possessions, Wawasee was limited to just one first down it attained on its first possession, and entered the lockerroom down 14-0 and having amassed -17 yards of total offense.
“There’s no excuse, it was just one of those nights where we just missed on this play, just missed on that play,” Wawasee head coach Jon Reutebuch said. “We had three touchdowns through the air that we could have had, in previous weeks, that we connected on. Defensively, you can’t put the defense on the field for that many plays – they were up near 70 plays (66) on offense. As much as we rotate guys through, we just can’t put guys in those positions.”
It wasn’t as if Northridge was the ’85 Bears in mowing Wawasee down. The Warriors just couldn’t make all the stops it needed in the first half. Justin Puckett picked up a fourth and two to keep a Ridge drive alive, then Wawasee gave up a first down on third and long that kept Ridge on the field in allowing Dom Crowder to take an option for nine yards and a score.
After Wawasee went backward after a gift roughing the kicker penalty reinvigorated a drive, Wawasee sent its next punt just 17 yards with 1:13 in the half. A senseless pass interference penalty on a ball five yards out of bounds put Ridge in business, and with 29 seconds left on the clock, quarterback Logan Hooley used a nice play fake to open up Barrett Reschly for a 34-yard touchdown.
Wawasee’s defense, which had pitched back-to-back shutouts to open a season for the first time in almost 35 years, showed its grit with a turnover as Brock Reschly fumbled on the goalline after a long completion, with Wawasee falling on the ball. Wawasee again held Ridge on downs later in the quarter, and got inside the Raider 20, but a scrambling Parker Young couldn’t get upfield on fourth and three, halting it’s best scoring chance of the night.
“Defense is what we thought they were,” offered Reutebuch. “Defense did a very nice job tonight. If we could have complimented them on the offensive side of the ball, I think you would have saw a different ballgame. It’s a work in progress. Sometimes the offense gives it to ya, and the defense doesn’t, and vice versa.”
Hooley would call his own number to finish off the night, taking a play fake through a tiring Warrior defense for 12 yards and the final points of the night.
Ridge would outgain Wawasee 331-62 on the night, Hooley accounting for 162 of those yards through the air and on the ground. Puckett proved to be a giant disruption at just 5’6″, 136 pounds, rushing for 89 yards on 12 meaningful carries.
The win moves Raider coach Tom Wogomon to 9-1 against his former club and runs his Raiders to 2-0 on the season. Ridge will host Plymouth (0-3) next week.
Wawasee, which had a 73-0 aggregate scoreline after its first two wins, drops to 2-1 overall. Wawasee will entertain NorthWood (1-1) in a week.