SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Both Shawnee and Wapakoneta rolled out a few tricks in the opening half.
But, with the game on the line, Wapakoneta turned to bruising, straight-ahead running back Evan Kaeck.
Kaeck racked up 144 yards on 21 carries to power Wapakoneta to a 28-14 victory over Shawnee on Friday at Shawnee High School.
Kaeck had 124 of those yards, with two TDs, in the second half.
Kaeck had TD runs of 2 and 5 yards.
In fact, Kaeck had only three carries for 20 yards in the first half.
“We had some big plays in the first half, then we had some three and outs, so in the second half we did a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage and getting everybody involved,” Wapak coach Travis Moyer said.
Wapakoneta is 4-0, 3-0 in the Western Buckeye League.
Shawnee is 3-1, 2-1 in the WBL.
Moyer gave plenty of praise to his offensive line for the Redskins rolling for 277 yards rushing.
“Give credit to the entire group (of the line),” Moyer said. “It’s a group that has continued to work hard. They have a workmen’s-type attitude.’’
The game was tied at 14 at the half.
But after Wapak mixed in three pass plays in the first half, the Redskins went run happy behind a powerful, efficient offensive line.
On the Redskins’ first possession of the second half, they went 48 yards on nine plays for a TD.
Most of those plays were Kaeck bulling his way straight ahead.
Kaeck’s 2-yard TD gave the Redskins the lead to stay 21-14 with 4:50 left in the third.
“In the second half, we were fortunate to get a stop (to start the half), then go down and score,” Moyer said. “Then we were able to play the style we want to play.’’
After Wapak’s defense held, it was back to Kaeck and the Wapak offensive line.
Kaeck’s 5-yard TD, he plowed his way into the end zone, gave the Redskins a 28-14 lead with 11:30 to go.
Wapak quarterback Reed Merricle added 53 yards rushing on 14 carries.
In the air, Merricle completed 1 of 3 for 67 yards and one TD.
Wapak’s Connor McDonald ran for 80 yards on 12 carries.
Shawnee was led on the ground by Peyton Wilson’s 66 yards on 11 carries.
The Indians’ Will Roberson, the WBL’s leading rusher, was held to 33 yards on nine carries.
Shawnee quarterback John Barker hit a 68-yard pass on the team’s final drive and completed 14 of 21 for 239 yards for the night.
Shawnee wide receiver Jacob Vorhees had 10 receptions for 148 yards.
But the Wapak run defense tightened up and made tackles at the line of scrimmage in the second half.
Wilson ran for only 14 yards and Roberson ran for 18 in the second half.
“Our defense was able to get off the field,” Moyer said. “I really thought when our defense needed to make a play, they made a play. And when the offense needed to make a play, it made it.’’
Both teams wanted to grind it out on the ground, but both knew they may have to throw in a few change-ups along the way.
The game was tied at 7 after the first quarter.
Shawnee took a 7-0 lead the second time it had the ball.
The Indians went 55 yards in five plays for their first score.
Barker tossed a bubble screen to Roberson and it went for 37 yards to the Wapak 2.
On the next play, Barker went the left side for a 2-yard TD to give Shawnee a 7-0 lead.
That came with 5:03 left in the first quarter.
Wapak came right back on the second play of its next drive.
Merricle faked the ball to his running back and went to a play-action throw across the heart of the field to a wide-open Noah Ambos, who took it 67 yards for a TD.
That tied the game at 7 with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
“That was a big play for us,” Moyer said. “Obviously, we’re going to run the ball first, with the ability to hit the big play, and fortunately we made that big play. I thought that was a big play for us at that time.’’
Shawnee took a 14-7 lead off a flea-flicker play with 5:41 left in the second quarter.
Barker handed the ball to Roberson, who reached the line of scrimmage, then turned around and pitched it back to Barker.
Barker fired a 34-yard TD strike to Matthew Sargent.
That capped a four-play, 71-yard TD drive.
Wapak tied the game at 14 on 39-yard TD run by McDonald.
That came with 2:35 left in the first half.
Moyer was more than pleased with his team’s second-half performance on the road.
“I really thought our kids showed a championship effort tonight and really gave a gutsy effort,” Moyer said. “Things didn’t right for us at times, but I think our guys stayed the course and continued to fight.’’
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