SULLIVAN TWP. — A week ago, a struggling Wellington football team lost to previously winless Firelands. Two weeks ago, Black River had more than 700 yards of offense in a victory over Fairview.
The muddy shoe ended up on the other foot Friday night, as Wellington quarterback Dylan Weidrick scored on a 56-yard run midway through the third quarter to lead the Dukes to a 7-0 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory in the mud bowl known as Black River’s Art Stevenson Field.
“This is huge,” the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Weidrick said. “As a team, the intensity was not there last week. We weren’t ready to hit, big-time. This week we came out fired up. It’s been a really tough season, but this helps a lot.”
In beating division-leading Black River (3-4, 3-1) for the second straight year, the Dukes (2-5, 2-2) limited the Pirates to 132 yards total offense, including 86 yards rushing on 38 attempts (2.3-yard average).
As a result, Black River was shut out for the first time since losing 13-0 to Buckeye on Oct. 23, 2009.
“We’re going to find some focus and get motivated to block up front,” Pirates coach Al Young said. “I don’t care if I find five new guys.
“Nobody’s going to tell me we can’t run this offense,” the 23rd-year head coach said of the Wing-T. “We’ve been running this stuff for 25 years and we’ve run it against good teams.”
There was ankle-deep mud between the hash marks from one 30-yard line to the other, which forced Wellington to abandon its pistol offense and put Weidrick under center for much of the game.
The Dukes didn’t exactly rumble all over the field in finishing with 141 yards rushing and 61 passing, but they did enough on a night when the teams combined for almost as many penalties (14) and punts (15) as first downs (16).
Black River also had six of the game’s nine fumbles — only one was lost — and Weidrick threw the only pick of the night, though that was a total non-issue because it came on fourth-and-20 in Pirates territory on the next-to-last play of the first half.
“It was slippery, but they played on the same field,” Young said. “They didn’t have the trouble we did.”
Wellington had a chance to score in the second quarter when Black River’s Cody Elsten and Andrew Vaughn botched a handoff, with the Dukes’ Sam Miller recovering at the Pirates 18 with 50 seconds left.
A 5-yard rush, incompletion and three penalties later, the Dukes were facing fourth-and-20 from the 28, and Vaughn picked off Weidrick at the 9 with 12 ticks on the clock.
After a three-and-out by Black River to start the second half, Weidrick made the biggest play of the game on Wellington’s first possession of the third period.
On third-and-7 from his own 44, the quarterback rolled left, cut right, broke into the clear and rambled 56 yards for the only touchdown of the night.
“It was great blocking,” the overly modest Weidrick said. “We set it up with Quinton (Dendinger) up the middle all night. I cut it back and all there was open field.”
That was never the case for Black River, whose deepest penetration was to the Wellington 33, where Elsten lost 4 yards while trying to run instead of throwing the ball on fourth-and-5 with 4:06 to go.
“We actually played a really good defensive game,” a frustrated Young said. “We had one miscue the entire game, but then we turn around offensively and lay an egg. We did not hit anybody up front.”
Vaughn, who began the night with 912 yards rushing, had 50 on a dozen carries. Thirty-one came on his next-to-last tote of the night. Fullback Austin Phillips, who had 589 yards coming in, had 30 yards on 11 tries, with a long gain of 6 yards.
“I know I’ve got backs that can run,” Young said. “We’ve got to find some folks that are going to move people up front.”
• CRAFTY KICKING: Wellington had eight of the game’s 15 punts, with Weidrick averaging 31.9 yards in a most interesting way. The senior started with a 22-yarder, then actually had a magnificent zero-yard punt when he chased down a snap that sailed 20 yards over his head, sprinted left and managed to kick the ball back to the line of scrimmage. He then boomed a 72-yarder on his next attempt.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.