WHITEHOUSE -- For one half Anthony Wayne never ran a play in Napoleon territory, yet the host Generals only trailed 9-7 at the break.
Things changed quickly, however, in the second half as two early miscues by the Wildcats turned into touchdowns and Anthony Wayne went on to post a 28-9 Northern Lakes League victory.
"We were in the lead at half but I didn't feel we had established any rhythm," explained Napoleon coach Tory Strock. "We made some adjustments at half we felt good about but we didn't get them done."
Mistakes were a big reason why.
On the third play of the third quarter, Blake Alberts sacked Jacob Plassman forcing a fumble and Dustin Moosman recovered for the Generals at the Napoleon 40.
Four plays later Josh Lindke hit Reed Allen with a 23-yard touchdown pass to put Anthony Wayne in front to stay at 14-9.
"We tried a quick pass in the flat but he (Plassman) was hit before he could plant," Strock said of the turnover. "That was the beginning of the momentum shift."
It didn't end there.
Facing a fourth-and-three at their own 41, the Wildcats dropped back into punt formation, but the snap bounced short of punter Tyler Miller and through his legs. Miller scramble to pick up the football but was tackled for a 17-yard loss. It took Anthony Wayne just four plays to hit paydirt when Sam Bruno reached the end zone on a 4-yard double reverse, the same play Bruno scored on in the second quarter from 78 yards out.
"We were able to get the run game going in the second half," noted AW coach Craig Smith, whose team finished with 270 yards on the ground.
Anthony Wayne added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Lindke and Allen hooked up on another scoring pass and the Generals were never threatened thanks to a smothering defense that limited Napoleon to just 115 yards of total offense.
In fact, the Wildcats finished the second half with only 17 yards, never picking up a first down until 3:43 remained in the contest.
"We had trouble with their pass game and changed up our defense in the second half," Smith said. "We went more zone and that helped.
"Our run defense is good, we knew that coming in."
Napoleon found that out, picking up just 48 yards rushing on 31 carries, including 14 attempts for seven yards in the final two quarters.
"I didn't feel we ever got in a rhythm," Strock admitted. "Most of the time when they take something away we find something else. Tonight we couldn't find that recipe.
"They run very well and play very good team defense. They're well coached and played a physical game."
It started on the line of scrimmage.
"When they can play four in coverage and still stop the run you know you're in trouble," Strock said. "That's what happened tonight."
In the first half Napoleon dominated the field position with the average starting point at the 48-yard line, helped out by three Miller punts averaging 44 a boot.
Two Anthony Wayne turnovers set up both Napoleon scoring drives.
Jordan Myles recovered a fumble late in the first quarter and the Wildcats capitalized with a Plassman to Myles 17-yard scoring pass for a 6-0 lead.
After Bruno put the Generals in front 7-6 with the 78-yard run at the 5:40 mark of the second quarter, Napoleon regained the lead following a Charlie Harris interception with 3:03 to play before half.
Despite picking up just three yards on five plays, the Wildcats were helped out by three Anthony Wayne penalties to set up a 22-yard field goal by Miller for a 9-7 halftime lead.
"We played downhill the whole first half," noted Strock, whose team led even though 15 of 17 running plays netted three yards or less in the opening half. "We didn't capitalize (on good field position) and it starts with the run game. We never got it untracked."
Napoleon, now 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the NLL, tries to snap a two-game losing streak on Friday at Perrysburg while Anthony Wayne, which improved to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in the league, visits NLL front-runner Sylvania Southview.
First Downs 6 8
Rushing Yards 31-48 44-270
Passing Yards 67 61
Total Yards 115 331
Passing 8-18-1 4-5-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties 1-5 8-76
Napoleon 0 9 0 0 - 9
Anthony Wayne 0 7 14 7 - 28
N - Myles 17-pass from Plassman (run failed).
AW - Bruno 78-run (Hartbarger kick).
N - Miller 22-field goal.
AW - Allen 23-pass from Lindke (Hartbarger kick).
AW - Bruno 4-run (Hartbarger kick).
AW - Allen 20-pass from Lindke (Hartbarger kick).
RUSHING: Napoleon - Schlade 14-40; Anderson 6-19; Miller 4-7; Harris 3-2; Plassman 4-(-20). Anthony Wayne - Bruno 13-153; Dulay 16-61; Grohowski 14-56; Lindke 1-0. PASSING: Napoleon - Plassman 8-18-1-67. Anthony Wayne - Lindke 4-5-1-61. RECEIVING: Napoleon - Miller 4-41; Myles 2-21; George 1-11; Harris 1-(-6). Anthony Wayne - Allen 2-43; Chipka 1-14; Grohowski 1-4.