Nov 282016
 
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AW junior Nathan Barney (75), junior Nolan Anderson (37) and senior Alex Vogel (50) open a running lane for senior Evan Brown. The Generals ran for 515 yards against Olmsted Falls. MIRROR PHOTO BY ART WEBER

BY JOEL SENSING | MIRROR SPORTS — The Anthony Wayne football team punched its ticket to the state Division II Final Four with a 38-31 victory over Olmsted Falls at Sandusky Perkins High School last Friday. The Generals (10-3) ran roughshod over the Bulldogs (9-4), amassing more than 500 yards on the ground to win the regional final game. Senior Evan Brown ran for 287 yards and two scores on 35 carries (8.3 yards per carry), while junior Nick Schneider totaled 226 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries (7.3). AW’s lone pass attempt was incomplete. “We knew they had a solid defense, but we knew their weakness was the run defense,” Brown said. “We knew if Nick and I had big games, we could go out there and get the win. Our O-line helped us out a ton – they were making huge holes. The O-line was just manhandling their D-line from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. It was amazing.” The Generals never punted in the game, converting seven of eight third-down plays. The one they didn’t convert resulted in a field goal by senior Brad Tanner. Anthony Wayne coach Andy Brungard said it was hard to describe the emotions after the Generals’ historic playoff win, its third of the postseason. The school had won just one playoff game in its history prior to this season. “It’s pretty indescribable,” he said. “All I can say is just joy. I’m just so happy. When you’re happy to the point you’re in tears, it’s pretty hard to describe that emotion.” Brungard said the team believed it could win the game by controlling the line of scrimmage. “We felt like we didn’t have to throw the ball if we could pound it between the tackles like that,” he said of the team’s 515 yards on the ground. “We did an excellent job running the ball. On the offensive line, we made a couple adjustments as we had time on the sidelines to show those guys some things.” The offensive line, led by guys such as seniors Alex Vogel and Jordan Lindke and juniors Cole Ragan, Dawson Zaleski, Nathan Barney and Ralph Burdo, routinely opened ample holes for Schneider and Brown to eat up large chunks of yardage. “They’re a focal point of our team,” Brungard said of the offensive line. “At the end of the game to go win it, we knew we needed a first down and they had 11 guys in the box and we still ran it right at them and got a first down. That was huge and that’s all on the offensive line.” The AW defense, led by Johnny Rupp, Division II district defensive player of the year, had some key stops in the first half to help the Generals open up a 14-point advantage in the first 24 minutes of play. Rupp had 14 tackles and a fumble recovery. “It’s an awesome feeling,” said Rupp, who led the team with 14 tackles. “We all just had to play our assignment. We made a couple mistakes, a couple long plays and penalties, but other than that, we did pretty good.” Brungard agreed with the “pretty good” assessment. “The other game plan was to get up early,” he said. “I asked our defense to make two stops, and they did that in the first half. That was huge.” Brungard knew the team had a tough task in stopping senior Spencer Linville, a compact, powerful fullback who entered the game with 1,977 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground. “Our game plan was to squeeze every gap inside and force someone else to carry the ball,” he said. “We felt like if we could keep the ball out of his hands and force it out on the perimeter, we’d have the upper hand. We were able to do that tonight.” The Generals got on the board on the game’s first possession, when Brown ran it in untouched on the left side for the 11-yard score with 7:51 left in the first. Senior Brad Tanner’s extra point made it 7-0 Generals. Olmsted Falls returned the favor on the ensuing possession as it used 10 running plays to get to the AW 11-yard line. Senior quarterback Brett Hutkay then found junior receiver Brian Eiseman wide open in the end zone for the 11-yard touchdown. The point-after by senior Ricky Castrigano tied it up at 7-7 with 2:54 left in the first. AW wasted no time getting the lead back, however. The big play on the next drive was a 31-yard run by Schneider, who took it down to the OF 2-yard line. On the next play, Schneider finished things off, punching it in for the score. Tanner’s point-after made it 14-7 with 34 ticks left on the scoreboard in the first stanza. The Generals kept the pressure on in the second quarter, with Brown and Schneider getting solid chunks of yardage down to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line. Schneider scored his second TD by running it in from 5 yards out with 6:16 left before the half. Tanner’s kick made it 21-7 AW. The teams exchanged fumbles on their next possessions, before the Bulldogs got back into things when Hutkay found junior receiver Josh Jaeckin open in the middle and Jaeckin took it the distance, running for the 67-yard score. The point-after made it 21-14 with 2:50 left in the second. The Generals ripped the momentum right back on the next possession, however. On the sixth play of the drive, Brown ran untouched up the middle, turning on the jets for the 40-yard score. Tanner’s extra point made it 28-14 with 1:25 left before the break. Olmsted Falls took the first possession of the second half and turned it into points as Linville ran it in from 4 yards out. The extra point cut AW’s lead to 28-21 with 7:20 left in the third. A Tanner field goal on the Generals’ next drive extended the lead to 10 points with less than a minute to play in the third stanza. Another Linville touchdown and accompanying extra point got the Bulldogs to within three points, 31-28 with 9:11 to play. AW marched right down the field, alternating between Brown and Schneider until the latter leaped into the end zone over the offensive line with 3:47 to play. The point-after made it 38-28. A Castrigano field goal cut the score to 38-31 with 1:47 remaining. Moments later, his onside kick was recovered by Anthony Wayne sophomore Max Bradfield. The Generals were able to run out the clock after Schneider made a nifty move in the backfield to pick up 9 yards on a huge third-and-six conversion. AW was then able to run out the clock to seal the win. “We all believed we could do this from the start of summer workouts,” Brown said. “To go out here and actually make the Final Four for the first time in school history, it’s just awesome.” The Generals limited Linville to 67 yards and two scores on 18 carries (3.7), while Hutkay picked up 75 yards on 15 carries (5.0). Hutkay also threw for 135 yards and two scores on 6-of-10 passing. Anthony Wayne had nice defensive performances from a number of players, including senior Trevor Pennell (12 tackles), junior Nolan Anderson (11), seniors Braden Womack and Ryan Connelly (nine) and Ragan (seven). State Semifinal The win earned AW a chance to battle two-time defending state champion Cincinnati La Salle (11-2) at Sidney High School’s Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, November 25. Advance tickets are $8.00 and may be purchased at the AW athletic office from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Friday. The Lancers were the No. 3-seeded team in Region 8, while the Generals were seeded fourth in Region 6. La Salle, an all-male Catholic school, is coming off a 45-14 regional final win over Miamisburg. The Lancers have won nine straight games, while the Generals are looking for their fourth straight win after ending their regular season with a loss to Springfield. The Lancers are led by athletic players such as Jarell White, Christian Turner and Tre’Sean Smith. White, who had been a linebacker for most of the season, is a recent plug-in at running back, getting his first 100-yard rushing game of the season in the regional semifinals. Turner was named the Greater Catholic League South Player of the Year with 602 yards rushing, 51 receptions for 675 yards and 12 total touchdowns.