The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Cougars pull away from Wauseon 40-7

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Van Wert needed a big play and Carson Smith came through in a big way during Friday night’s Division IV opening round playoff game between the sixth seeded Cougars and No. 11 seed Wauseon at Eggerss Stadium.

After recovering a fumble at the Cougar 23 with 8:28 left until halftime, the Indians drove inside the five yard line and were threatening Van Wert’s 14-7 lead. However, Smith ended the drive with an interception in the end zone and along with an unsportsmanlike conduct call on the Indians, Van Wert had the ball at the Cougar 35. It was one of two interceptions on the night by Smith.

Aidan Pratt (15) takes off for yardage against Wauseon. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

“It was huge to get that stop,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “They tried doubling No. 11 (Sam Smith), they tried switching him and doing motion that would confuse us and I thought our guys did a great job of talking through that and getting into a coverage that we needed to be in and ultimately making a play.”

From there, Van Wert (10-1) went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a four yard touchdown pass from Aidan Pratt to Maddix Crutchfield that extended the lead to 21-7. The drive featured 10 runs and took nearly five minutes off the clock. Pratt had five carries and 26 yards on the drive, while Brylen Parker carried four times for 25 yards.

“That was huge to be able to run the ball like we did,” Recker said. “They played a five man box and made some throws difficult and had some loose man coverage mixed in with some press coverage. Our offensive line did a good job of adjusting how they were blocking, what we call ‘getting on our tracks.’ Aidan and Brylen did an exceptional job of getting some tough yards, yards after contact and getting us first downs.”

The Cougars put the game out of reach in the second half. Pratt fired two touchdown passes in the third quarter, one a 30-yarder to Nate Phillips and an eight yard pass to Parker, giving Van Wert a 34-7 lead at the end of the period.

In the fourth quarter, Parker scored on a two yard run, which sparked the continuous clock rule for the remainder of the game. The junior running back finished with 14 carries for 121 yards, while Pratt added 67 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Through the air, Pratt connected on 14-of-25 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Four of his completions went to Phillips for 66 yards, while Crutchfield had five receptions for 25 yards. As a team, the Cougars finished with 334 yards of total offense.

The Indians (6-5) were held to just 199 yards of total offense. Parsons completed 12-of-23 tosses for 112 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Crutchfield set up Van Wert’s first touchdown with a 35-yard punt return to the Wauseon 35. Six plays later, Pratt scored on an eight yard touchdown run, giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 4:49 left in the first quarter. After pinning the Indians deep and forcing a three and out, Parker returned a punt 12 yards to the Wauseon 16 and Pratt took it in from five yards out with 90 seconds left in the opening period.

Wauseon’s lone score came early in the second quarter, when Parsons hurled a 56 yard touchdown pass to Tyson Rodriguez.

Van Wert will travel to Erie County face Perkins in the Region 14 quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday. The Pirates (10-1, No. 4 AP poll) defeated River Valley 65-14 on Friday night.

Brylen Parker runs through Wauseon defenders. Bob Barnes photo

“It should be a really good game and from here on out no who’s playing who there’s going to be some great games because of the quality of teams in our region,” Recker said. “We’re going to go up there and give it our best shot.”

Scoring summary

Van Wert 14 7 13 6 – 40
Wauseon 0 7 0 0 – 7

First quarter

VW – (4:49) Aidan Pratt 8-yard run (Damon McCracken kick)
VW – (1:30) Aidan Pratt 5-yard run (Damon McCracken kick)

Second quarter

W – (11:44) Trey Parsons 56-yard pass to Tyson Rodriguez (Tyson Rodriguez kick)
VW – (:57) Aidan Pratt 4-yard pass to Maddix Crutchfield (Damon McCracken kick)

Third quarter

VW (7:44) Aidan Pratt 30-yard pass to Nate Phillips (Damon McCracken kick)
VW (:59) Aidan Pratt 8-yard pass to Brylen Parker (kick failed)

Fourth quarter

VW (11:40) Brylen Parker 2-yard run (kick failed)

POSTED: 10/28/22 at 11:44 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports