The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

Pratt, VW Cougars roll past Celina 45-7

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

A lightning delay was the only thing that really slowed Van Wert during Friday’s home opener against Celina.

The two teams kicked off 20 minutes late, then Aidan Pratt fired five touchdown passes in the first half to help give the Cougars a 38-0 lead. The Cougars went on defeat the Bulldogs 45-7, with the entire second half played under the OHSAA’s continuous clock rule.

Garett Gunter makes a grab during Friday’s WBL opener against Celina. Gunter turned the first quarter catch into a touchdown. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

In two games, Pratt has thrown nine touchdown passes and no interceptions and has passed for nearly 700 yards. Each of Friday’s scoring passes went at least 20 yards.

Two of Pratt’s touchdown passes came in the first quarter – a 26-yarder to Garett Gunter and a 20-yard completion to Maddix Crutchfield, giving Van Wert a 13-0 lead at the end of the period.

“He’s doing a great job,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said of his junior quarterback. “I think we’re doing a good job of mixing in some of the deep plays with the intermediate and short passes. I’m so happy for him to get this good of a start and it’s just huge for us offensively.”

Pratt found a wide open Ethan Brown for a 48-yard score at the 10:47 mark of the second quarter, then he connected with older brother Connor Pratt twice in less than 75 seconds with a 51-yard scoring strike, then a 46-yard touchdown pass that Pratt caught off a deflection.

“It was good that he got going,” Recker said of the senior receiver. “Maddix had a big week last week statistically and did a good job again tonight but it took Connor a while last year to get his first touchdown so to get him going like he did I think that’s just going to propel him into the rest of the season. He really is a tough matchup – he’s got all the great qualities of a wide receiver.”

The 51-yard scoring strike capped off a five play, 87-yard drive that was set up by a Brylen Parker interception and the 46-yarder was a one play drive that came after the Cougar defense forced a three-and-out.

Parker closed the first half scoring with a four-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left, then the 5-10, 175 pound sophomore running back took a handoff and raced 38 yards down the visitors sideline for a second score with 58 seconds left in the third quarter. He finished with four carries for 60 yards, while Nate Jackson added 12 carries for 52 yards.

Celina’s only touchdown came halfway through the fourth quarter when Nick Adams tossed a 21-yard scoring strike to Adam Faber. Adams finished 17-of-30 for 110 yards, with five of his completions going to Adian Strong for 32 yards. Quinn Andrew logged four catches for 33 yards and Faber had three receptions for 30 yards.

Aidan Pratt was 17-of-21 for 345 yards and ran five times for 40 yards. Connor Pratt had four receptions for 154 yards, Gunter had three catches for 66 yards and Crutchfield finished with six receptions for 49 yards.

As a team, the Cougars finished with 513 yards of total offense and Recker noted he was pleased with pass protection and with the defense as a whole.

Brylen Parker looks for running room against the Celina defense. Jerry Mason photo

“I was really proud of our young guys on defense for coming up with a stop against their varsity (late in the game),” Recker said.

Celina quarterback Nick Adams finished 17-of-30 for 110 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Van Wert will play at Defiance on Friday.

“I think as they learn with their new coach (Travis Cooper) and as he learns about them I think they’re going to continue to improve and I have no doubt we’re going to get their best shot so we have to prepare even better than we did this week,” Recker said.

Scoring summary

First quarter

VW – Aidan Pratt 26-yard pass to Garett Gunter (kick failed)
VW – Aidan Pratt 20-yard pass to Maddix Crutchfield (Connor Pratt kick)

Second quarter

VW – Aidan Pratt 48-yard pass to Ethan Brown (kick failed)
VW – Aidan Pratt 51-yard pass to Connor Pratt (kick failed)
VW – Aidan Pratt 46-yard pass to Connor Pratt (kick failed)
VW – Brylen Parker 4-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)

Third quarter

VW – Brylen Parker 38-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)

Fourth quarter

C – Nick Adams 21-yard pass to Adam Faber (Carter Altstaetter kick)

POSTED: 08/27/21 at 11:50 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports