High school football: Blocked punt return gives Wapakoneta victory against Van Wert

WAPAKONETA – Van Wert was 12 seconds away from victory.

But then came THE BLOCK.

Wapak’s Jordan Schneider picked a blocked punt out of the air and returned it 35 yards for a TD to lift Wapak to a stunning 20-19 victory over Van Wert Friday at Wapak’s Harmon Stadium.

“I saw the ball go up in the air, then I caught it and told myself I had to go,” Schneider said. “I saw Tyler Houser block it and it went right up in the air. I got underneath it, caught it and took off.”

Van Wert led 19-0 after the first quarter, but the Redskins came within 19-14 in the final seconds.

Van Wert had it fourth-and-1 at the Wapak 43 with 12 seconds to play

The Cougars elected to punt, but the punt was blocked by Wapak’s Tyler Houser.

The ball went straight into the air, like toast flying out of a toaster.

Schneider waited for the ball to come down, then caught and took it 35 yards for a TD with four seconds left.

“Van Wert is a good team and it was a hard-fought game,” Schneider said. “We kept fighting and coach (Nick) Truesdale’s baby (J.J, who spent most of his first year in the hospital) was our captain this week and we have a saying, J.J. mentality and we were fighting for him since he was on the sideline tonight (and involved with his family in the pre-game coin toss).’’

Added Wapak coach Travis Moyer, “Do you think we can get that on the play of the week this week?”

Van Wert tried a final pass and a few laterals on the final play, but the play was stopped after a couple of yards.

“That’s two weeks in a row (last week against St. Marys was a blocked field goal) we’ve had special teams in terms of a block. After the first quarter, they got on us so quick and it was a blur,” Moyer said. “But I think we weathered the storm in the second quarter and we came out and got a score in the third quarter and got back in it.’’

Van Wert all-everything quarterback Aiden Pratt completed 24 for 28 for 260 yards and two TDs.

Maddix Crutchfield had four catches for 86 yards. Garrett Gunter had seven catches for 45 yards.

Wapak quarterback Caleb Moyer 12 of 25 for 205 yards and one TD.

Grant Jolly had seven catches for 123 yards, with a 38-yard TD.

Van Wert’s offense was clicking in the first half and led Wapakoneta 19-0 at halftime Friday at Wapak’s Harmon Field.

In the opening half, Van Wert quarterback Aiden Pratt completed 15 of 17 passes for 181 yards and two TDs. Most of his passes were quick and short, but were right on target.

Van Wert led 19-0 after the first quarter.

The Cougars went 84 yards in five plays for their first score.

On a second-and-17 at the Van Wert 23, Pratt scrambled out of the pocket right and found a wide-open Maddix Crutchfield down the left sideline for a 77-yard TD.

That gave Van Wert a 6-0 lead with 10:03 left in the first quarter.

Wapak had the ball next, but was forced to punt.

But on the punt, the ball easily cleared the head of punter Kyle Beach. Beach recovered it at the Wapak 11, for a loss of 27 yards.

needed only two plays to score.

On the second play of the drive, Pratt hit Crutchfield on a wide-receiver screen for a 4-yard TD.

That pushed the Cougars’ lead to 13-0 at the 8:54 mark of the second quarter.

Van Wert made it 3 for 3 on possessions for TDs when it touched it next.

This time the Cougars went 62 yards on eight plays for the TD.

Pratt’s quick, slicing connections through the Wapak defense moved the team down the field.

Then it was Brylen Parker, who ran it over from the 3-yard line for the TD.

That gave Van Wert a 19-0 lead at the 5:14 mark of the first quarter.

Wapak scored on its first possession in the third quarter.

On a fourth-and-6 from the Van Wert 38, Wapak’s Caleb Moyer found a wide-open Grant Jolly down the left side for a 38-yard TD.

That capped a seven-play, 67-yard drive.

It brought Wapak within 19-7 of Van Wert with 8:47 left in the third.

Wapak got within 19-14 on a 2-yard TD run by Jace Knouse with 2:33 to go.

The TD was set up on a 42-yard pass from Moyer to Will Campbell to take the ball to the Van Wert 29.

Tom Usher wrote this story for The Lima News. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.