A win solves a lot of what ails a team, and Sandusky found a little salve to help soften the rough patches in a season of struggles with a 32-15 Northern Ohio league win over Willard Friday night at Cedar Point Stadium.
It was the second win of the year for the Blue Streaks (2-6, 2-2), a send-off win for the seniors as they played their last game at Strobel Field before finishing the season with two away games.
Coach Mike Franklin was happy to send his seniors out with the victory in front of the hometown fans, and it was the seniors who led the Streaks over the Crimson Flashes. Jay Moore ran for 151 yards on just nine carries, including three touchdowns.
Kicker David Linden added two extra-points and two field goals which helped stake Sandusky to a 13-7 lead.
Moore’s speed was the difference for the Streaks on offense as he scored on a 71-yard run to end the first quarter, then added a 19-yard touchdown jaunt in the third quarter and a 28-yard burst to ice the game with just over three minutes to play.
Franklin appreciates his overall team speed, but especially what Moore brings to the table.
“We’re awfully blessed to have kids like that,” Franklin said. “On any snap ball, they can go the distance. When you look at some of our touchdown runs we got, we’re just blessed to have some speed, there’s no doubt about it.
“We’ve been trying our best to use it all year long,” he added. “I think we’ve moved the ball pretty well all year long and we’ve just got to keep working on the defense. We’re not going to give up on it and we’re going to keep pushing.”
Sandusky also got a 59-yard scoring run from junior running back Ben Fuller on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to make it 19-7.
Big plays were the norm for the Streaks, who also had a 34-yard touchdown pass called back because of holding before turning the ball over on an interception two plays later, and a 52-yard Gene Porter touchdown run nullified by another holding call.
Still, Sandusky had enough of the big-play ability to overcome its mistakes, Willard (1-7, 0-4), while using an effective ball control offense to give itself chances, found the deficit too big at times to make a game of it in the second half.
“We had chances in the first half,” said Willard coach Mark Matula. “We just didn’t capitalize on what we were doing well. A holding penalty hurt on one drive, and you can’t do that to yourself. Their speed was evident on some of their outside plays. (Moore) is one of the fastest kids in the conference, so my hats off to him.
“We had plenty of time,” he added. “We had a nine-and-a-half minute drive in the first half. That’s the offense that we run. Everybody wants to see five wide throwing the ball down the field. We don’t have that type of athlete to run that offense, in my opinion. I guess, to a certain extent it does put you behind the eight ball. We still have to run our offense. We can’t make something up on the fly that’s going to get us a 14-point touchdown. That’s not going to happen.”
Willard’s scores came on two 1-yard runs, the first from Dylan Caudill, who capped a 17-play 80-yard drive in the second quarter to keep it close. The drive took 9:22 off the clock, which in turn helped Sandusky to just three offensive series in the first half. The other Crimson Flashes score came from Nate Nedolast in the fourth quarter as he scored on his only carry of the night.
Franklin had nothing but praise for Linden, who connected on field goals of 37 and 30 yards, the second as time expired in the first half.
“I also want to mention David Linden, our field goal kicker, who had a couple of really nice field goals.
He made a 37-yarder to begin the scoring for us, which probably could have been good from 47 or 50 yards,” Franklin said. “We have confidence in David. He’s a senior, and it’s his last time on the football field. As a coach when you’re coaching seniors for the last time on your home field, you’ve got to find a way to make him be a part of that. It’s part of the game and as much time as David puts in he deserves those opportunities.”
Sandusky travels to Ontario (5-3, 2-2) next week, while Willard hosts Bellevue (4-4, 2-2).