SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — It certainly wasn’t the start the Bath football was looking for Friday when it traveled to Shawnee for a Western Buckeye League matchup.
The Wildcats grabbed a quick 7-0 lead on a 38-yard run by quarterback Doug Sanders before being stopped twice in a row in the red zone and then watching Shawnee go 99 and 90 yards on back-to-back possessions and the Indians grabbed a 14-7 lead.
Casey Mulcahy scored on a 31-yard run and Tyler Frieson went in from 1-yard out as the Indians grabbed that early lead.
But Bath (4-2, 3-2 WBL) made a quick defensive adjustment that allowed them to slow down the Shawnee sweep plays and hold on for a 28-20 victory.
The Indians (1-5, 1-4 WBL) used eight different running plays from the line of scrimmage that went for more than 10 yards in the first quarter before the Wildcats were able to adjust.
“We were very concerned about them getting the ball outside,” Bath coach Chris Miller said. “We changed the way we pursued that enabled us to shut down their cut-back runs.”
Bath tied the game when Sanders scored on a 7-yard dash late in the second quarter and the teams went to the break tied at 14 each.
The two teams then fought to a 0-0 stalemate in the third period after Shawnee appeared to grab the lead when Frieson went 63 yards to pay-dirt only to have the score called back on a penalty midway through the third quarter..
“That play was a killer, we had their guy blocked and then we hit him in the back,” Shawnee coach Dick West said. “You can’t have silly penalties and turnovers.”
The Wildcats grabbed the lead at 21-14 when running back Keanu James went in from 1-yard out to cap a 65-yard drive early in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing Shawnee possession, the Indians were moving the ball when they fumbled and Bath linebacker Hunter Weis picked it up and rumbled 40 yards to put the Wildcats up 28-14.
Shawnee added a late score on a Zach Bailey to Alec Perrin 23-yard scoring play to pull to within 28-20 but was unable to score again.
Shawnee piled up 254 yards on the ground on 41 rushing attempts. The Indians were led by Frieson with 84 yards on 11 carries and Jaylin Thomas with 60 yards on 14 rushing attempts.
Sanders had a big night for the Wildcats as the senior signal-caller completed 11-of-19 passes for 169 yards with one interception. He also rushed the ball 20 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“This is a big win for us,” Miller said. “It’s no secret we have struggled on defense but we have stepped up defensively these last two games.”