BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — For the second straight week, Anthony Wayne football lost a heartbreaker, and coach Anderson Brungard is accepting the blame.
In Bowling Green on Friday night, the Bobcats defeated the Generals 28-27 in a Northern Lakes League thriller. Just a week earlier, Perrysburg had narrowly escaped with a 27-24 win over AW.
“Our kids fought hard, but I felt like that one was my fault,” Brungard said. “Down the stretch, I felt like I did some things that I had to do better just managing the game. I mean, I just take responsibility for that.”
The game hinged on a missed conversion kick with 2:14 remaining in the game and the Bobcats ahead by one point.
After a delay of game penalty, the ball was pushed back to the 8-yard line and senior placekicker Zain Hamid’s boot went just left of the goalpost.
If the line of scrimmage had remained the 3-yard line, Hamid’s point after touchdown kick likely would have gone just inside the left upright.
“The missed PAT – that is 100-percent my fault,” Brungard said. “The delay of game, that is on me, and I shouldn’t have put our kicker in that situation. It is what it is.”
But Hamid, like so many Generals, showed considerable fortitude in a game that saw both teams march up and down the field. It was a winged-T clinic put on by both offenses.
There was only one punt by each team, both teams dominated with their running game and long, sustained drives consumed the clock.
There were even six fourth-down conversions in seven attempts, and time-consuming drives were commonplace.
The game saw 654 yards of total offense (BG 328, AW 326), including 559 yards rushing (BG 285, AW 274) and 42 first downs (AW 22, BG 20). Time of possession was nearly split – 24:54 for BG and 22:19 for AW.
On the game’s opening possession, AW marched 72 yards on eight plays with junior Ryan Robertson finding a hole on the left side and running the final 12 yards for six points with 7:30 remaining in the first.
BG wasted no time, marching 60 yards on five plays with senior quarterback Eli Brown running the final 28 yards virtually untouched into the end zone with 5:11 remaining in the first, tying the game at 7-7.
After AW senior Garrett Pike’s punt was downed at the BG 1-yard line, the AW defense held, and Robertson returned BG’s punt to the Bobcat’s 18-yard line. Those were the only two punts of the game.
One play later, AW senior running back Charles Renninger scampered 18 yards for paydirt, scoring with no time on the clock in the first quarter and Hamid’s conversion put AW up 14-7.
BG then marched 59 yards on 20 plays, but a 34-yard field goal attempt by junior Ethan Warner fell short.
After taking over at the 20 and two plays later, Pike’s second-down pass was intercepted by senior defensive back Michael Becker, who returned the football into the end zone for a pick-six.
Warner’s conversion kick knotted the game at 14-all with 1:26 remaining in the first half.
Becker’s interception was the only turnover of the game, but it proved costly for AW in a game that never saw either team take more than a one-possession lead.
After a 37-yard kickoff return by sophomore Kadin Shank, BG marched 54 yards in eight plays with Brown scoring from the 1-yard line with 8:27 remaining in the third, giving the Bobcats their first lead, 21-14.
AW responded with a 21-play, 80-yard drive that included three fourth-down conversions, and Pike ran the final two yards into the end zone with 9:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 21.
After Hamid’s kickoff and a BG penalty put the Bobcats on their own 5-yard line, the Bobcats marched 95 yards on 11 plays, overcoming a holding penalty and scoring on senior Cayden Seither’s 5-yard run with 3:27 remaining.
On AW’s next possession, Renninger ran for 15 and 17 yards and junior running back Chase Saneholtz ran for 15, 9 and scored from 27 yards out.
Those five rushing plays brought the Generals to within one, 28-27 with 2:14 remaining, setting up the penalty and missed conversion kick that ultimately decided the winner.
The 5-foot-8, 170 speedy Brown was hard for the AW defense to catch up to, running for 201 yards on 25 carries. For AW, Renninger had 165 yards on 21 carries.
Saneholtz had 49 yards on four carries, Pike ran for 41 yards on eight carries, Robertson had 15 yards on seven carries and junior Jacob Copley ran once for four yards.
Pike also completed 7-of-10 passes for 52 yards, including one to Copley for 28 yards, one to junior Evan Ray for 12 yards, one to senior Ty Roder for six yards and one to Renninger that gained no yardage.
Brown completed 3-of-9 passes for 39 yards and junior Ryan Jackson completed both of his pass attempts for another four yards.
Seither caught one pass for 21 yards, Jackson caught one pass for 12 yards, junior Nick Powers caught one pass for eight yards, Becker had one catch for six yards and senior Mason West had one catch that went for negative four yards.
Seither also ran for 51 yards on 14 carries, Jackson covered 19 yards on two rushing attempts and Powers gained another 14 yards on two carries.
From his defensive back position, the 6-0, 173-pound Jackson led both teams with 15 solo tackles.
For AW, junior safety Alex Talbert had seven solo tackles, including one tackle for a loss, junior linebacker Bryce Kahl had seven solo tackles and senior linebacker Adam Miller and Saneholtz from his safety position had six solos apiece. Miller had one tackle for a loss.
This Friday, AW (1-2) returns home to Schaller Memorial Field to take on Southview (1-2), which defeated Maumee (0-3), 24-3, but lost to Napoleon (3-0), 35-0, and Perrysburg (3-0), 54-0.