WAUSEON — Revenge is best served sweet and cold. Even sweeter when it avenges a playoff loss that ended a promising season.
That’s exactly what the Wauseon Indians (9-2) did on Saturday night at Harmon Field in Wauseon when they knocked off Bellevue (6-5) 41-18 in a Division IV regional quarterfinal to avenge an 18-0 defeat to the Redmen in the 2015 playoffs.
“We just wanted to play a more physical game this week. We had a disappointing loss to Archbold the previous week so we just wanted to move forward and come out and be physical and stop their running game,” explained Wauseon head coach Shawn Moore. “We knew their quarterback was a good running threat. We wanted to stop him and eliminate the big play threat with Marshall on the outside. Putting Connar (Penrod) on him and he was able to slow him down. Just being physical and offensively getting back on our rhythm and I think we were able to do that tonight.”
Coming off of a 38-0 setback to state ranked Archbold in the final week of the regular season, Wauseon had a slow start to the game as they only accrued nine yards on three possessions in the first. Bellevue was the first to strike as they started their second drive from their own 49 yard line and ended the 11-play drive with a 10 yard touchdown pass from Keegan Ray to Preston Ray. The Redmen went for two but the pass fell incomplete for a 6-0 lead with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
However, Wauseon then followed up with three straight scores in the second quarter with some help with some stingy defensive efforts.
“Our defense has been outstanding so far this year, coach Schnitkey has done a great job with those guys. Again, we make tweaks week in and week out with those guys and put guys in different positions and they’re playing hard,” added Moore. “We were able to get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback on some of his throws and he made some errant throws and our guys were able to come down with those passes. Just making adjustments at halftime with some things they were doing.
“A tremendous effort by the defense, offense and special teams and everybody. When everything is working, it’s fun out there.”
Looking to get things going again offensively, Bellevue started the ensuing drive at their own 36. In a five play drive, the Redmen reached the Wauseon 35 before Connar Penrod stepped in front of a Keegan Ray pass to set the Indians up with a first and 10 at their own four. Wauseon gained three first downs and drove the ball to their own 44 yard line, then capped off the nine play drive with a 56-yard touchdown connection between Figy and Penrod with 1:37 left in the half.
Desperately needing to answer the 20 unanswered points put up by Wauseon, Bellevue started the next drive from their own 43. A facemark penalty on Wauseon gave Bellevue yet another first down. The Redmen capitalized on a key facemask penalty by Wauseon as Keegan Ray completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Marshall. Bellevue again went for two but the pass was broken up for a 20-12 Wauseon lead with 28 ticks left in the half.
“We talked at halftime seeing how they were playing us and with some of the motions and formations they were doing and we made some tweaks with some of the plays that we were doing with our guys,” said Moore. “They were able to make the adjustments on the fly and they were able to hit some big plays. Connar had a tremendous game for us tonight and hopefully we continue to do that throughout the rest of the weeks.”
Wauseon received the second half kickoff and started from their own 14. Figy found Penrod on an 83-yard touchdown connection to help Wauseon pull out to a 27-12 lead just 33 seconds into the second half.
This was the third big play for the duo of Penrod and Figy, who threw for 396 yards on the day. Penrod was a key to the offense, hauling in nine passes for a total of 297 yards.
“It was kind of a flow of the game. Once we saw how they were playing us in the formations. Eventually, they started to leave Connar with single coverage and so we were able to take advantage of that,” said the Indians mentor. “A couple of those plays are just checks at the line between Cody and Connar. They got a good chemistry going right now and they were able to check some of those plays and Connar was able to come down with them and make it to the endzone.”
Wauseon put an exclamation point on the game in the fourth quarter when Figy hit Penrod for a 30-yard score, the fourth scoring connection between the clicking receiver and signal caller.
Bellevue’s next drive was a quick one, as the Redmen’s desperation and some Wauseon pressure breaking through the Bellevue protection, forced a errant pass that Jonas Tester picked off and returned to the Wauseon 48 yard line to seal the game.
“That’s huge to get takeaways when we didn’t have any turnovers,” stated Figy. “That just helps out an offense so much, and better than when they’re not getting takeaways. They did great tonight and I’m just proud of all of them.”
“We just knew that we had a bad taste in our mouths still even as seventh and eighth graders when we played those guys for my class,” added the Wauseon senior signal-caller. “We just knew we had to get revenge. We knew how they play and it all just kind of worked out in the end.”
Wauseon advances to play Ottawa-Glandorf (8-3) in the regional semifinal next Saturday at 7 p.m. at a neutral site to be determined later after the Titans defeated Galion 28-17.
First Downs 24 21
Rushing Yards 26-50 27-95
Passing Yards 278 396
Total Yards 328 491
Passing 30-50-3 22-37-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties 2-25 4-45
Bellevue 6 6 6 0 — 18
Wauseon 0 20 14 7 — 41
B — P. Ray 10-pass from K. Ray (pass failed).
W — Penrod 61-pass from Figy (Blanco kick).
W — J. Tester 7-pass from Figy (kick failed).
W — Penrod 56-pass from Figy (Blanco kick).
B — Marshall 14-pass from K. Ray (pass failed).
W — Penrod 83-pass from Figy (Blanco kick).
W — Figy 1-run (Blanco kick).
B — K. Ray 4-run (pass failed).
W — Penrod 30-pass from Figy (Blanco kick).
RUSHING: Bellevue — Howey 4-29; K. Ray 22-21. Wauseon — Figy 13-48; Penrod 4-16; J. Tester 2-14; Leahy 4-12; Wilson 4-5. PASSING: Bellevue — K. Ray 30-50-3-278. Wauseon — Figy 22-37-0-396. RECEIVING: Bellevue — P. Ray 13-101; Marshall 8-74; Fitzgerald 4-67; Raifsnider 2-24; King 3-12. Wauseon — Penrod 9-297; N. Tester 9-67; Brock 1-20; J. Tester 2-14; Armstrong 1-(-2).