WADSWORTH: A strong running game proved to be the difference for the Grizzlies was they recorded 384 rushing yards to defeat the Copley Indians Friday night at Art Wright Stadium.
Wadsworth (5-3, 3-2) struck first, when junior tailback Martice Jackson scored on a 20- yard run on the first drive of the game to give his team the early 7-0 lead.
“We knew we were going to have to grind it out and win the battle up front,” Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said. “And our kids responded and came out with a great effort.”
After the score, both teams struggled to establish consistent offensive production with the exception of Jackson. Penalties and lack of execution hindered both teams for much of the first two quarters.
Copley (5-3, 2-3) only recorded 64 yards of offense in the half, and tailback Aregeros Turner was held to just 21 rushing yards.
Jackson, on the other hand, rushed for 108 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns in the first half to lead the Grizzlies offense to a 14-0 advantage. Wadsworth failed to complete a single pass through the entire first half, however.
Copley coach Ron Viscounte said Wadsworth was more physical on both sides of the ball.
“All the basic things of the football game they were able to handle us in those areas,” Viscounte said.
But, that aforementioned Grizzlies rushing attack did more than enough in the second half to make up for the lack of passing the ball.
Jackson finished his night with155 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. Junior tailback Scott Campbell added 13 rushes for 86 yards with a touchdown, while junior fullback Nick Winkler pitched in 6 carries for 60 yards.
“We gained some confidence from the effort here tonight, but there are still some mistakes to clean up,” Dennison said.
Just as Copley was putting together its best drive of the game in the fourth quarter, Turner fumbled on an option run, and Wadsworth recovered to steal back the late momentum.
“They tackled us very well, and we failed to get off and sustain blocks,” Viscounte said.
The Grizzlies immediately took advantage of the mistake to put the game away. The triple running back attack lead the way again, and Campbell scored on a 6-yard run to make the score 21-0.
A late 42-yard touchdown by senior fullback Gunnar Graham run capped a night of domination on the ground for the Grizzlies.
Viscounte said Wadsworth created big running lanes all night, while they failed to get off the blocks and make the necessary tackles and stops to get the Grizzlies offense off the field.
Turner finished with 92 yards on 29 carries, but was never able to find the end zone for Copley as the team finished with only 164 yards for the game.
This marks the third shutout of the season for Wadsworth, while this is the third game that Copley has been shutout.
With just two regular season games left, Viscounte said the team’s bottom line goal is to win a game.
“We are going to go to work starting tomorrow morning, and get better,” he said. “We have Green on the schedule next week, and we are going to do everything to try and beat them.”
Dennison said the team gained some momentum tonight, but he emphasized that there are still two tough games left.
“We want to continue the effort we had tonight moving forward,” Dennison said.