Evergreen used a 224-18 margin on the ground and a dominating 34-14 edge in time of possession – that included a final six minute drive – to run out the clock in a 14-10 win road win over Swanton Friday.
“This is kind of what we figured our offense would be like,” victorious coach Aaron Schmidt said of the ball control in the second half. “Time consuming drives, 15-18 play drives, that’s how we figured we were going to be effective, hopefully without the penalties. Penalties and turnovers are killer for us, but if we can play mistake free football we will be right there.”
Swanton took advantage of an early miscue when Jack Etue lost the ball at the Evergreen 16 yard line and Xavier Wiemken fell on it to give the Bulldogs the ball in the red zone.
Four plays later, Ian Saunders punched it in from the one to give Swanton an early 7-0 lead.
That lead was short-lived though as four plays after the kickoff, Etue found Jacob Riggs all by himself behind the Bulldog secondary for a 65-yard pitch and catch to knot the game with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
Evergreen struck again midway through the second.
Taking possession at their own 36 after a Bulldog punt, first down runs by Etue and Jack Krispin along with a 15-yard facemask penalty on the Bulldogs gave Evergreen position at the Swanton 25.
Riggs beat a Swanton defender across the middle and Etue fired a strike that turned into a 25-yard score to put the Vikings up 14-7 with 6:48 to go in the second.
“In any close game like Friday’s the difference is just a few plays. Evergreen was able to connect on two long pass plays for touchdowns and we didn’t,” said Swanton coach Denton Saunders on the difference in the game. “We had some opportunities to make game-changing plays but fell just a little short… I give my players credit for not giving up and fighting till the end and I give Evergreen credit for making those big plays where we were unable to.”
After Alex Peete’s kickoff ricocheted off a Bulldog and Swanton player covered it up at midfield, Trent Weigel hooked up with Devon Crouse down the sideline for a 35-yard gain to the Evergreen 15.
Josh Vance’s run around the left side gave Swanton a first-and-goal at the four.
There the Vikes held their ground.
Etue stopped Lathan Pawlowicz short of the goal line on a pass play.
Will Smithmyer and Landon Vance stuffed Tyler Gowing for no gain on second down, then on third down Nick Beemer smashed Weigel for a loss that forced a Riley Hensley field goal attempt that he knocked through to get Swanton within 14-10.
“Hey that was a big stand man,” Schmidt exclaimed. “Jack Etue had a big tackle in space at the one, Nick comes through and makes a big play. Those are the kind of plays that win a game where we gave up three in that situation instead of seven.”
Payton Boucher’s kickoff return out to the Evergreen 46 gave the Vikings good field position, and Krispin bowled over a Bulldog defender on his way to an 18-yard gain after a short pass to get the Vikes into the red zone.
However, Etue fumbled getting into the second level and Swanton’s Brendan Keith recovered to squelch the Evergreen threat.
Evergreen ate up over nine minutes in the third quarter with a 17-play drive that got as far as the Swanton 15, using Beemer’s 15 yard jaunt, converting on fourth-and-two on Krispin’s nine yard run and twice more on third down runs.
However a holding penalty, a false start and an illegal block pushed the ball back to the 45 where Evergreen had to punt it away.
Weigel’s tunnel screen to Vance turned in a 41-yard gain that got the ball to the Evergreen 35.
Again the Vikings held as Justyn Bartlett was thrown for a loss and two Weigel passes fell incomplete to force a Bulldog punt.
Swanton got the ball back at their own 23 with seven minutes left.
Once more the Evergreen defense came up with a big play as Logan York sacked Weigel for a seven-yard loss and then hit the quarterback on a third-and-17 to force an errant throw and a Bulldog punt.
“He really stood up didn’t he?,” Schmidt said of his junior linebacker. “He has been a pleasant suprise for us. He’s a character in the locker room, he’s one of those guys you really like having on your team and he really came up big that series for us.”
From that point the Evergreen line took over again as the Vikings ground out five first downs on a Krispin catch for 15, then first down runs by Beemer, Etue, and Krispin twice more to exhaust the final 5:40.
“The big fellas up front were fantastic,” said Schmidt. “I could say every name of every kid who played up there again this week. When we run for that many yards and eat up that much clock, that has to be Evergreen football this year.”
Krispin carried 27 times for 109 yards to lead the Evergreen offense. Etue added 89 on 18 totes.
Evergreen tacked on 124 in the air.
Swanton threw for 116 yards of their total of 134. Wiemken had 10 tackles to lead the Bulldogs.
Evergreen, now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, travels to Delta (0-4, 0-1 NWOAL) Friday night. The Bulldogs (1-3, 0-1) go to Patrick Henry (3-1, 0-1).
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org