Wapakoneta Daily News

Tigers Rally Past Upset-minded Polar Bears

- By Cort Reynolds

DOLA – The visiting Waynesfiel­d-goshen football team tallied 21 unanswered points to close the second half and stave off upset-minded Hardin Northern 28-19 in a key Northwest Central Conference seesaw battle Friday night.

The comeback road victory over a fellow league unbeaten put W-G firmly in the driver’s seat early in its quest to repeat as NWCC champions.

With the win, the Tigers also improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in NWCC play this season, keeping them first in the league standings. Waynesfiel­d also extended its regular season win streak to 16 games. HN fell to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the NWCC after the tough defeat.

“I am very proud of our team,” said W-G head coach Shane Wireman. “We were down 12 on the road, and to rally back for the win was a great effort by our kids.” The game was scoreless after the first quarter. Tiger Troy Spencer came up with a big sack late in the first period to thwart a Polar Bear drive.

But HN intercepte­d a Drew Breitigam pass and took possession at the 35-yard line.

The Polar Bears methodical­ly drove to the Tiger two as the opening quarter expired. On second and goal, the Bears scored on a short run to put W-G behind for the first time this season.

The HN point after kick missed to keep their lead at 6-0 with 11:56 left in the first half.

W-G came back quickly with a 54-second scoring drive to seize the lead. Breitigam’s aerial over the middle was snared by Dalton Jordan for a touchdown to tie it. The Lane Steinke point after kick put the Tigers ahead 7-6 with 11L02 left before intermissi­on. Northern drove back downfield and responded to regain the lead. A sweep around the left end resulted in a touchdown and a 12-7 Bear lead.

The two-point conversion try failed to keep the margin at five with 6:40 left in the half. W-G tried to answer with a scoring drive of its own.

Breitigam rambled all the way to the Bear 15 on a counter. But the Polar Bear defense stiffened and stopped Waynesfiel­d on fourth down at their own 11.

HN gained some first downs but had to punt, pinning W-G took at its own two with just 35 seconds left in the half. The Bears took the 12-7 lead to intermissi­on. Early in the second half, HN broke off a long touchdown run on third and five. The extra point kick extended the Bear lead to 19-7.

Grant Breitigam ignited the ensuing W-G drive with a 15-yard run. Jordan then hauled in a 21-yard reception. Drew Breitigam kept the chains moving with an eight-yard run on third down.

Quarterbac­k Breitigam then capped the drive with a 24-yard scoring aerial to Jace Kaufman with 5:53 left in the third period. The PAT kick missed to keep the margin at 19-13.

The Tiger defense then stuffed HN on a fourth down try and took possession at the 42-yard line. Waynesfiel­d drove to the Bear 20 and converted a first down behind a Grant Breitigam run to the 17. Grant Breitigam then carried some HN defenders into the end zone on a 17-yard TD run to tie it.

Steinke then scooped up a bad snap on the PAT try and ran it in for a two-point conversion to give W-G a 21-19 lead heading to the fourth quarter. The Tiger defense held, forced a punt and took over on its own 20. But after the Northern defense forced a punt, a bad snap gave the Bears possession at the Tiger 14. But the W-G defense stiffened and forced a field goal try, which HN missed wide left with 5:05 left to play.

The Tigers then converted a clutch third and eight play on a 19-yard Breitigam pass over the middle to Carson Barnes with 3:27 left.

Drew Breitigam then connected with Grant Breitigam on a slant, and he sped 59 yards to the end zone to all but decide the outcome. Steinke’s PAT kick extended the lead to 28-19 with 3:06 left. Northern kept their hopes alive with a fourth and six aerial conversion to the 37 with just over two minutes left. On fourth and three, a pass interferen­ce penalty advanced the ball to the Tiger 22 with 91 ticks remaining.

A big tackle for loss by Drew Breitigam forced fourth and goal from the nine at the 51-second mark. W-G then stuffed HN to turn the ball over on downs inside the 10 and seal the verdict. Tiger signal-caller Drew Breitigam completed seven of 13 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns with one intercepti­on. He also rushed 10 times for 58 yards. Jordan snared three aerials for 93 yards and one TD. Kaufman had one reception for a score.

Grant Breitigam caught one pass for 59 yards and a TD. He also netted 66 yards on nine carries. Running back Barnes added one reception for 19 yards.

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