The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Roughriders run by No. 1 Van Wert 21-14

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

ST. MARYS — A combination of a steady power running game by St. Marys Memorial and numerous mistakes by No. 1 Van Wert, including two penalties that erased two touchdowns, ended with a 21-14 victory by the Roughriders at Grand Lake Health Systems Field on Friday.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak by the Cougars (4-1, 3-1 WBL) that dated back to last season, while St. Marys Memorial improved to 3-2 (2-2 WBL). It also caused a four-team logjam at the top of the WBL (Van Wert, Shawnee, Ottawa-Glandorf, Wapakoneta).

Van Wert’s Aidan Pratt looks for running room during Friday’s game against St. Marys Memorial. Pratt had over 300 yards of total offense against the Roughriders. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

“Between penalties, missed opportunities and dropped balls nothing went right and in the first half we didn’t show up with energy we needed to play a good team like this,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “We’ve shown up with that energy before and have been better than other teams but this was a good wake up call. You can’t just show up and hope things go right, you have to be ready for it.”

After receiving the opening kickoff the Roughriders set the tone for the night by driving 68 yards in 14 plays and scoring on a four-yard touchdown run by Ross Henschen followed by the PAT by Brandon Bowers.

“We finally blocked people,” St. Marys Memorial head coach Bo Frye said. “I said when we start blocking people we’re going to be pretty good here and we need to continue to block people if we want to win. We work all the time to do things like that because that’s who we are and that’s who we’re always going to be.”

After that, the two teams exchanged turnovers as Aidan Pratt tossed his first interception of the year deep in Roughrider territory, then St. Marys lost a fumble four plays later. However, Van Wert turned the ball over on downs at the Roughrider 18, which led to a seven play, 82-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run by Tanner Howell with 7:41 left until halftime.

Later in the second quarter, St. Marys Memorial missed a 50-yard field goal but the Cougars were whistled for being offside, which put the Roughriders in fourth and four. A run attempt came up short and Van Wert took over and appeared to score on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Connor Pratt but the play was wiped out by an offensive pass interference call and the half ended 14-0.

Trey Laudick returned the second half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown but it was called back because of holding then three plays later the Cougars lost a fumble.

The Cougars got on the board with 4:50 left in the third quarter when Pratt capped a 16-play, 76 yard drive with a three yard touchdown run but the PAT was blocked.

After St. Marys missed a 35-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars drove 80 yards and scored on Pratt’s one-yard run, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Nate Jackson that tied the game 14-14 with 9:18 left in the game.

While it appeared momentum had shifted at that point, the Roughriders responded with a 15-play, 62 yard drive, all on the ground, that ended with a one-yard run by Kyle Kogee.

“That’s Roughrider football and that’s what we do,” Frye said. “Credit to Van Wert, they played extremely hard. They have tough kids and that’s a dynamic offense but our kids were just making the plays and doing things that we’re asking them to do.

“We had nine guys in the box but they’re just very good at getting that push (up front),” Recker said. “They earned the victory for sure.”

St. Marys Memorial churned out 283 yards rushing on 61 carries, including 32 carries for 158 yards by Henschen. The Roughriders threw just one pass in the game – a 38-yard completion from Gavin Reinke to Braeden Hemmelgarn, and the hosts punted just one time all night.

With just 1:55 left the Cougars drove to the Roughrider 12-yard line, but after a sack and an incompletion, Pratt was pressured on fourth and 13 and threw an interception in the end zone.

“You turn the gas on, you play hard and great things happen,” Frye said. “I don’t think we were in great position all the time but we were playing hard.”

Pratt completed 18-of-34 passes for 194 yards and two interceptions, while rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Maddix Crutchfield finished with seven receptions for 66 yards while Connor Pratt had three catches for 69.

The Cougars, who averaged 527 yards per game were held to 319 total yards.

Van Wert will host Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday. The Titans defeated Bath 35-0 on Friday.

POSTED: 09/18/21 at 12:17 am. FILED UNDER: Sports