The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

Cougars too much for Rossford, win 46-0

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The constant rain, wind and cold didn’t seem to bother Van Wert one bit during Friday’s Division IV Region 14 playoff opener Eggerss Stadium.

Playing in less than ideal conditions and on a field that quickly became a quagmire, No. 3 seed Cougars scored early and often and rolled to a 46-0 win over No. 14 seed Rossford. Van Wert didn’t punt in the game and the entire second half was played with a continuous clock.

Van Wert running back Nate Jackson lugs the ball to the end zone during Friday’s playoff opener against Rossford. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

After receiving the opening kickoff, it took the Cougars (10-1) just three plays to score. Aidan Pratt connected with Garett Gunter, who made a defender miss and sprinted to the end zone for a 63-yard score.

“Coach (Cole) Harting saw the one-on-one matchup and Garett ran a nice route and made a great catch under those conditions,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said.

The Cougars scored on their next possession when Pratt capped off a 10-play, 57-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run, then Van Wert took advantage of a fumble on Rossford’s ensuing possession and scored on a five-yard shovel pass from Pratt to Maddix Crutchfield, giving the Cougars a 21-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.

“We got that momentum going and it was tough for Rossford to throw the ball,” Recker said. “Seven of their games have been on turf which made things difficult for them tonight.”

Rossford (5-6) then put together a 13-play drive but it ended on downs at the Van Wert 21. The next drive ended on a fumble deep in Rossford territory, but linebacker Xavier Oukley made up for it by intercepting an Alex Williams pass and taking it back five yards for a touchdown.

“He’s battled injuries the last two seasons and has come back strong each time,” Recker said of Oukley. “He made a great play – he saw the slant coming and took it to the house.”

Ahead 28-0, Van Wert wasn’t done. After Rossford was forced to punt, Nate Jackson took a handoff, broke several tackles and raced 43 yards for a touchdown, then after forcing another Bulldog punt, the Cougars used three big plays to score – a 25-yard run by Jackson, a 24-yard completion from Pratt to Jackson, then a 20-yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Connor Pratt that made it 40-0 with just 26 seconds left until halftime.

In two quarters of play, Pratt completed 7-of-9 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Jackson had 10 carries for 94 yards and a score and Van Wert had 335 yards of offense at halftime and finished the game with 390 total yards.

After a scoreless third quarter, backup quarterback Carson Smith scored the game’s remaining touchdown on a 26-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Van Wert’s defense held Rossford to 116 yards of total offense. Williams was 5-of-17 passing for 29 yards and had 51 yards on 13 carries, including a 33-yard run.

The Cougars will host No. 11 seed Wauseon in the regular quarterfinals on Friday. The Indians upset No. 6 seed Triway 41-7.

“We’ve seen some film of them and they’re pretty athletic,” Recker said. “They have a couple of really nice receivers, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, so it’ll be a challenge but our guys will be up for it.”

Scoring summary

First quarter

10:47 – Aidan Pratt 63-yard pass to Garett Gunter (Damon McCracken kick)
5:49 – Aidan Pratt 1-yard run (Damon McCracken kick)
3:41 – Aidan Pratt 5-yard pass to Maddix Crutchfield (Damon McCracken kick)

Second quarter

6:41 – Xavier Okuly 5-yard interception return (Damon McCracken kick)
5:27 – Nate Jackson 43-yard run (kick failed)
: 26 – Aidan Pratt 20-yard pass to Connor Pratt (kick blocked)

Fourth quarter

11:32 Carson Smith 26-yard run (pass failed)

POSTED: 10/29/21 at 11:29 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports