BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Two third-quarter fumbles led to Perrysburg touchdowns, and the Yellow Jackets held on to defeat Anthony Wayne, 27-24, Friday night at Schaller Memorial Field.
As the Generals fall to 1-1, it puts in danger any chance AW might have to win its fourth straight Northern Lakes League title, but there is plenty of football yet to be played.
It also ended a four-game winning streak for AW over the Yellow Jackets and spoiled the Generals’ Senior Night celebration.
“All of the credit goes to them. They definitely won this game,” said AW coach Andy Brungard. “But it’s also tough to swallow when you have four turnovers and a blocked punt.
“I mean, that ultimately is going to kill you. We gave them the ball inside the 10-yard line. We fumbled on two drives that I thought we were going to score, and I thought we overthrew a pass for a touchdown.
“I’m not saying those are not excuses, I’m saying it’s hard to remedy after you do that,” Brungard continued. “Perrysburg definitely earned this win.”
The two third-quarter touchdowns put Perrysburg ahead 27-3 with 4:50 remaining in the game, but the Generals found their offensive stride and nearly came back to win it.
AW senior quarterback Garrett Pike threw a 9-yard strike to junior wide receiver Evan Ray, a 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ryan Robertson, and Pike also ran for 32 yards on a fourth-and-1 to lead the Generals on a 65-yard, 7-play scoring drive.
Senior running back Charles Renninger had runs of 10, three and a touchdown run of two yards to close the gap to 17, 27-10, with two minutes remaining.
In the fourth, a 9-play, 92-yard drive resulted in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Pike to the 6-foot-4 Ray with 7:07 remaining in the game, closing the gap to 10, 27-17.
During that drive, Pike had a 43-yard run, an 18-yard completion to Renninger, and Renninger had runs of five and eight yards.
The AW defense forced a three-and-out, and the Generals took over at their own 48 with 4:49 remaining. Six plays later, Renninger scored on a 4-yard run, closing the gap to three, 27-24, with 2:47 remaining.
During that drive, Pike had a 4-yard completion to Renninger, a 32-yard strike to Ray and a 5-yard pass to Robertson.
The AW defense forced another three-and-out, and the Generals took over at their own 10 with 1:11 remaining.
After Pike’s 17-yard completion to 6-5 senior tight end T.J. Winston and a 9-yard pass to Renninger, three straight incompletions left the Generals asking what could have been had their offense been clicking like this the entire game.
The defense was up to the task – at first. In Perrysburg’s opening possession of the game, the Yellow Jackets marched 68 yards to the AW 1-yard line.
However, on fourth-and-1, AW junior cornerback Jeffrey Mold perfectly read a pass thrown by Perrysburg senior quarterback Christian Gulgin, stepped in front of a receiver and returned the interception to the 50-yard line.
AW’s ensuing 15-play, 50-yard drive resulted in a 21-yard field goal by senior placekicker Zain Hamid, giving AW a 3-0 lead with 5:59 remaining in the opening quarter. However, the Yellow Jackets scored the next 27 points.
Connor Walendzak, a 5-11, 200-pound sophomore running back, was a beast for the AW defense to bring down, ultimately running for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
“For whatever reason, we had a lot of missed tackles,” Brungard said. “He’s a hard runner and unfortunately he’s a sophomore because he’s going to have two more years ahead of him.”
Gulgin completed 7 of 16 passes for 121 yards and two TDs and did not throw another interception. The Perrysburg QB also accounted for another 16 yards on the ground.
Senior wide receiver Cam Darrington caught three passes for 76 yards and senior wide receiver Aidan Pratt had two catches for 40 yards.
Pike had the biggest game of his career, completing 18 of 31 passes for 211 yards and one TD. He has already committed to play baseball at The University of Toledo after graduation.
Renninger caught five passes for 70 yards, Ray had three catches for 56 yards, Robertson had seven catches for 42 yards, Winston had two catches for 27 yards and 6-4 wide receiver Ty Roder had one catch for 16 yards.
Pike also led AW in rushing with 95 yards on 10 carries, Renninger had 58 yards on 18 carries and Robertson had 17 yards on two carries.
AW junior linebacker Bryce Kahl led the AW defense with eight solo tackles, two assists and two tackles for loss.
Junior linebacker Ty Grooms garnered six solos, two assists and one tackle for a loss and junior safety Chase Saneholtz had six solos and one assist.
AW travels to Bowling Green on Friday, September 11. BG is 2-0 after a 42-7 win over Maumee and a 49-10 victory over Northview.