The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

Port Clinton stuns VW Cougars 49-21

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

FINDLAY — It was a night when almost everything went right for Port Clinton and very little went right for Van Wert.

The No. 4 Redskins took advantage of Cougar mistakes, including drops, fumbles and penalties and used a big, powerful offensive line to roll up 536 total yards on the way to a 49-21 Division IV Region 14 championship win over No. 3 seed and defending state champion Van Wert at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium on Friday.

Maddix Crutchfield gains yards after making a catch during Friday night’s regional championship game against Port Clinton. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

It was a marked turnaround from last year when Van Wert beat Port Clinton 46-20.

“It was a big combination of us not playing our best game and Port Clinton is much improved from last year and had a great game plan,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said.

After forcing a turnover on downs on the game’s first drive, Van Wert ran two plays and lost a fumble that gave the Redskins the ball at the Cougar 27. Five plays later, quarterback Cam Gillum scored on an eight yard keeper and Andrew Hanson added the first of his seven PATs, giving Port Clinton a 7-0 lead, a score that stood after the first quarter.

The Cougars drove to the Port Clinton 10 on the next possession but turned it over on downs. After trading punts and an offensive pass interfernce call that wiped a Van Wert touchdown off the board, Nate Jackson intercepted a pass by Gillum and raced back to the Port Clinton 32, then six plays later the game was tied on a one-yard touchdown run by Aidan Pratt and the extra point by Damon McCracken.

Aided by a 58-yard pass from Gillum to Tyler Webb on what appeared to be a broken play, Port Clinton scored on its next possession when Gillum went in from the two yard line.

Van Wert’s next drive ended with a fumble and the Redskins took just one play to score, using a flanker pass from Cashes Jackson to a wide open Webb for 34 yards, giving the Redskins a 21-7 lead that held up at halftime.

Van Wert’s next two possessions had drops that could have resulted in touchdowns.

Trey Laudick started the third quarter with a bang by returning the second half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to trim the deficit to 21-14. However, Port Clinton answered with a methodical eight-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a one yard touchdown run by Garrett Cornell. The Redskins were aided by a 15-yard late hit penalty on the first play of the drive.

“We thought Trey’s kickoff return was going to be the spark that we needed but we couldn’t get stops,” Recker said.

Van Wert responded with a five-play 90-yard drive that was capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Laudick, but Port Clinton’s ensuing possession ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Gillum that gave the Redskins a 35-21 lead.

The next two possessions iced the game for Port Clinton. Van Wert drove to the Redskin three but turned the ball over on downs then Port Clinton went 95 yards in five plays and scored on a 53-yard pass from Gillum to Hurst making it 42-21 with 9:28 left in the game.

The final score came on a five yard run by Cornell with 4:58 remaining in the game.

“Their line caused us problems and Cornell, who had a tough game last week being injured, caused us a ton of problems,” Recker said. “We couldn’t stop their running game and they did just enough passing the ball to cause us problems on the outside.”

Cornell finished with 30 carries for 206 yards and two touchdowns, including 132 yards in the second half. As a team, Port Clinton ran for 339 yards. Gillum rushed for 57 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries and he completed 12-21 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown and one interception. In addition, Port Clinton punted just once the entire night.

Meanwhile Van Wert finished with a season low 275 total yards, including just 63 on the ground. Aidan Pratt completed 23-of-44 passes for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Connor Pratt finished with six receptions for 79 yards, followed by Jackson (6-60) and Maddix Crutchfield (6-26). Trey Laudick had three catches for 41 yards and a score.

Van Wert finished with six penalties for 72 yards while Port Clinton was flagged four times for 30 yards.

Port Clinton (13-1) will play Youngstown Ursuline in the state semifinals while Van Wert’s season ended at 12-2.

“There are so many high school players and coaches that never had the chance to have the two year span that we did,” Recker said. “Thanks to our seniors for the example they set and thanks to our team for buying into what we’re doing.”

Scoring summary

First quarter

8:01 – Cam Gillum 8-yard run (Andrew Hanson kick) 7-0 PC

Second quarter

9:41 – Aidan Pratt 1-yard run (Damon McCracken kick) 7-7
7:59 – Cam Gillum 2-yard run (Andrew Hanson kick) 14-7 PC
6:52 – Cashes Jackson 34-yard pass to Josh Hurst (Andrew Hanson kick) 21-7 PC

Third quarter

11:48 – Trey Laudick 85-yard kickoff return (Damon McCracken kick) 21-14 PC
9:08 – Garrett Cornell 1-yard run (Andrew Hanson kick) 28-14 PC
8:26 – Aidan Pratt 37-yard pass to Trey Laudick (Damon McCracken kick) 28-21 PC
4:38 – Cam Gillum 1-yard run (Andrew Hanson kick) 35-21

Fourth quarter

9:38 – Cam Gillum 53-yard pass to Josh Hurst (Andrew Hanson kick) 42-21 PC
4:58 – Garrett Cornell 5-yard run (Andrew Hanson kick) 49-21 PC

POSTED: 11/20/21 at 1:11 am. FILED UNDER: Sports