WAPAKONETA, Ohio — Wapakoneta whipped up a big lead and then had to fight off the visiting Wilmington Hurricane Friday night in the opening round of the Ohio Division III playoffs, with the Redskins winning 28-14.
The 13th-seeded 5-5 ‘Cane traveled to Auglaize County to take on the 4th-seeded 9-1 Redskins and their 9-game winning streak.
Wapakoneta dominated the time of possession in the first quarter, as the Hurricane offense went three-and-out in their only possession and the Redskins controlled the clock with about a 50-50 mix of running and passing. Wapak went on a 12-play drive to finish the quarter at the Wilmington 13.
In the second quarter, Wapak continued the long drive down to the 8 when, on 3rd and 5, quarterback Caleb Moyer rolled to his right and found Jordan Schneider just inside the goal line and just in-bounds for the score. The PAT made it 7-0.
The Redskins kicked off, but a hard hit forced a ‘Cane fumble, recovered by the Redskins at the ‘Cane 15.
Just one play and 8 seconds later, running back Jace Knous powered his way through the middle and with a little help from his blocking friends powered into the end zone, and just like that it was 14-0.
The Redskins continued to control the ball, and finally had to punt from their end zone late in the half. Wilmington got the ball at their own 36 with 18 seconds remaining, but a long Aiden Price pass turned into a jump ball and was picked off.
Wilmington’s offense only managed to run about a dozen plays in the first half. And despite the score, the ‘Cane defense was playing well overall — knocking down several long pass attempts and holding Wapak to short gains on the ground, plus Wapak helped with six penalties in the half — but the Wapak first downs piled up.
Wilmington took the second half kickoff and found themselves starting at their own 11. On 3rd and 9, Wapak picked off another ‘Cane pass in the flat and returned it to the 4, where a play later Knous took it over right tackle for a 20-0 lead at 10:15 left in the second.
However, Knous, the Wapak workhorse, was injured on the play, leaving under his own power but leaning on trainers. The PAT made it 21-0.
Sophomore Jake Stephens took over at quarterback for the ‘Cane in the third quarter, and a short run by Stephens gave the ‘Cane their first first-down that wasn’t from a Wapak penalty, but the ‘Cane soon had to punt again.
Later in the quarter with Wilmington deep in their own territory, they tried to punt, but it was blocked and Wapak had the ball first and goal at the 10. On the first play Connor Meckstroth went over right end and the ‘Cane were down 28-0 at 6:59 of the 3rd.
Wilmington with Stephens at QB finally got the offense rolling as he completed two nice passes for 13 and 17 yards to Michael Brown. Thad Stuckey did the rest of the work with 9 runs capped by a 6-yard TD run. The Jonathan Custis PAT made it 28-7 and that’s how it stayed to the final quarter.
The ‘Cane late momentum continued as Brown picked off a long sideline pass on the 4th quarter’s second play and the ‘Cane took over at their 40.
But soon after, on a scramble, Stephens was injured, grabbing his leg; he was helped off, and Price re-entered at QB. Caydn Denniston then ripped of a 34-yard run to the Redskins’ 15.
Stephens re-entered the game at QB. He completed a big 4th down pass to Brown, and Stephens followed up with a 2-yard TD run and the lead was cut to 28-14.
Wapak then went on a sustained drive to seal the deal.
Thad Stuckey paced the ‘Cane with 73 yards on 22 rushes and Caydn Denniston had 47 yards on 6 carries. Stephens completed three passes, all on 4th down plays, on six attempts.
Wilmington was held to 178 total yards, while the ‘Cane D held Wapak to just 182.
Oct 28, 2022
@Mercy Health/Wapak Ford Field at Harmon Stadium
Wapakoneta 28 Wilmington 14
WAP- Schneider 7 pass from Moyer (Beach PAT)
WAP- Knous 15 run (Beach PAT)
WAP-Knous 4 run (Beach PAT)
WAP-Meckstroth 10 run (Beach PAT)
WIL-Stuckey 6 run (Custis PAT)
WIL-Stephens 2 run (Custis PAT)