Of all the numbers on the stat sheet Friday night, one meant the most to Tecumseh football coach Chris Cory: 68.
That’s how many plays his team ran to possess the ball for 34 of the 48 minutes. Northwestern ran only 38 plays.
“Against a team like that that can score through the air on any pass, you’ve got to keep them off the field,” he said. “And our kids did a great job of that.”
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The Arrows used seven players to run the ball 67 times for 355 yards to methodically defeat Northwestern 34-14. They ended a two-game losing streak and handed the Warriors (3-1) their first loss.
The offense missed Lucas Rodgers, a 5-foot-6, 170-pound junior, in the first three games with mono. On Monday he was cleared to begin practicing. On Friday he carried the ball 16 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. He came in as a pass rusher on third downs and forced a fumble on a sack in the first quarter. Rodgers played mostly JV the past two years.
“I wanted to come out and let people know that I’m Lucas Rodgers — I’m here to play,” he said.
Wyatt Ferguson added 68 yards on 15 carries, Davey Berner 67 yards on 12 carries and Gavin Wasson had 51 yards on nine carries.
“That’s what the wing-T’s supposed to be,” Cory said.
The yards came behind linemen Hayden Palmer (left tackle), Brandon Henn (left guard), Chase Mansell (center), Tommy Rowe (right guard), Callin Jarrell (right tackle) and tight ends Cam Sherman and Payton Shannon.
“When you’re not the fastest lineman and you’re pulling for them, they trust you and they get behind you and they follow your block,” Rowe said. “It’s great when you make a great block and they go score and they come back and congratulate you and say you made me have that touchdown.”
Berner’s 4-yard run and Rodgers’ 24-yarder put the Arrows up 14-0 early in the second quarter. After Northwestern’s Eli Berner scored on a 72-yard run, the Arrows extended the halftime lead to 24-7 with two more drives that finished on the first of two Kenyon Runner field goals (28 and 27 yards) and a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Will Sowder.
The Arrows seemed to run a lot of the same plays over and over to the same side, then the other side for a while. And they mixed in a counter play now and then. Last week they were shut out by Bellbrook.
“Dive, jet, dive, jet,” Northwestern coach Shane Carter said. “Makes me feel like I don’t know how to coach football. I watched Bellbrook do some good things on film last week. And Bellbrook must be a really, really good team or we’re a really bad defensive team.”
The Warriors entered with the top passing offense in the CBC, but the Arrows held Chris Hart to 84 passing yards and knocked him out of the game late. Carter said Hart was put under concussion protocol after a big hit late in the game.
Carter believes his team can compete for the CBC’s Mad River Division championship. But he knows some things need to change on defense.
“Two years in a row we’re just not tough enough to stop the run,” he said. “Coming here I know culturally we just haven’t been a team that’s been overly physical.”
Rowe was ready to be physical, but he wasn’t sure how ready his team was at the start.
“We thought we came out flat,” he said. “But it was the quiet before the storm.”
A storm of linemen and running backs.