The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Van Wert wins 55-45 shootout over Wapak

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

In a game that featured a number of big plays, six touchdowns in the third quarter alone and 1,100 yards of total offense, three fourth quarter plays stood out on Friday night at Eggerss Stadium.

Two of those plays belonged to Van Wert. One was an open field tackle on first and goal from the eight and the other was a 12-yard run on third and five. Those two plays, plus a key intentional grounding penalty on Wapakoneta allowed the Cougars to seal a wild 55-45 win over the visitors.

Aidan Pratt ran and passed the undefeated Cougars to a 55-45 victory over Wapakoneta on Friday night. Pratt accounted for five touchdowns in the game. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

Dating back to last season, it was the 11th straight win by Van Wert (4-0, 3-0 WBL), while Wapakoneta dropped to 2-2 (2-1 WBL).

“It was a great effort by both teams,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “They had a great game plan offensively and we had a great game plan offensively. It was a great one to watch and a fun battle to be a part of.”

Trailing 49-42 after three quarters, Wapakoneta quarterback Braedan Goulet opened the final period with a 52-yard pass to Kaleb Walter, which set the Redskins up with first and goal from the eight. However, Trey Laudick stepped up and stopped running back Jace Mullen for no gain on first down and three plays later, Kyle Beach kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it a four-point game, 49-45.

“Trey made a huge play to get that stop and hold them to a field goal and that was a huge shift there,” Recker said.

Van Wert answered with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Brylen Parker’s one-yard touchdown run that gave the Cougars a 10-point cushion with 4:22 left. Aidan Pratt scrambled for 12 yards on third and five to keep the drive alive.

“We obviously didn’t want to give them the ball back there and I just can’t say enough about Aidan’s effort tonight,” Recker said. “We counted on him to run the ball a lot more tonight while still doing his thing through the air. It was a great effort by him.”

Wapakoneta was hit with an intentional grounding penalty on the ensuing drive, which put the Redskins in third and 22 and led to a turnover on downs.

Laudick opened the game with a bang, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, but Goulet answered with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Mullen that tied the game at the 7:39 mark.

Pratt ran 11 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes later but Mullen responded with a 10-yard scoring run to tie the game 14-14. However, Van Wert answered in one play, a 62-yard pass from Pratt to Parker. The extra point was no good, leaving the Cougars with a 20-14 lead, a score that stood at the end of the first quarter.

Goulet sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown and Nikane Ambos added the extra point that gave Wapakoneta a 21-20 lead with 4:18 left until halftime. It was the first time this season the Cougars trailed in a game but on the next drive, Pratt lofted a 19-yard touchdown pass to Maddix Crutchfield, a score that gave Van Wert a 28-21 halftime lead.

It didn’t last as on the first play from scrimmage after halftime, Goulet ran 56 yards for the equalizer. The senior quarterback went on to finish with 11 carries for 223 yards and four touchdowns and he completed 6-of-12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.

On the next drive, the Cougars went 82 yards in eight plays and scored on a three yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Garett Gunter on fourth and three.

Maddix Crutchfield muscles for yards during Friday’s WBL showdown against Wapakoneta. Jerry Mason photo

From there, the two teams traded touchdowns. Goulet scored on a two-yard run to tie the game 35-35, then Parker ran two yards to put the Cougars on top 42-35. Goulet outran the defense for a 52-yard touchdown but Pratt found Gunter again, this time for a 73-yard touchdown pass down the home sideline, a score that gave Van Wert a 49-42 lead entering the final period.

“That’s the benefit of having all those guys,” Recker said. “There are so many guys that we can get the ball to and Aidan understands that and coach (Cole) Harting understands that and they work to get everybody the ball. They just do a great job of finding what’s open and it sounds simple but it’s not always easy.”

Give them credit, it was a high scoring game and both teams gave a great effort tonight,” Wapakoneta head coach Travis Moyer said. “We knew coming over here was going to be extremely difficult because they have a lot of guys back from the state championship team, but I’m really proud of our kids’ effort tonight. Obviously it was a night of big plays and they made more plays than we did.”

When the dust settled, Pratt completed 22-of-28 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns. Crutchfield had eight receptions for 80 yards and a score, Connor Pratt finished with five catches for 87 yards, Gunter tallied three receptions for 83 yards and two scores and Parker finished with two catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

The Cougars also had a pair of 100-yard rushers. Pratt had 17 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown while Nate Jackson finished with 14 carries for 101 yards. Parker added eight carries for 51 yards and two scores as Van Wert rolled up 589 total yards, while Wapakoneta finished with 511 yards.

Van Wert will travel to St. Marys Memorial on Friday night.

Scoring summary

First quarter

VW – Trey Laudick 97-yard kickoff return (Connor Pratt kick)
W – Braedan Goulet 52-yard pass to Jace Mullins (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 11-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)
W – Jace Mullins 10-yard run (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 62-yard pass to Brylen Parker (kick failed)

Second quarter

W – Braedan Goulet 60-yard run (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 19-yard pass to Maddix Crutchfield (Connor Pratt kick)

Third quarter

W – Braedan Goulet 56-yard run (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 3-yard pass to Garett Gunter (Connor Pratt kick)
W – Braedan Goulet 2-yard run (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Brylen Parker 2-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)
W – Braedan Goulet 52-yard run (Nikane Ambos kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 73-yard pass to Garett Gunter (Connor Pratt kick)

Fourth quarter

W – Nick Beach 21-yard field goal
VW – Brylen Parker 1-yard run (kick failed)

POSTED: 09/10/21 at 11:39 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports