West Holmes Football

Generals capture all 3 phases of the game to deal Knights a 47-20 loss

Woo QB Dylan Dagley comes up big for the Generals

West Holmes head football coach Zach Gardner felt that if his team could get a lead against the host Wooster Generals in a key Ohio Cardinal Conference showdown in week six, they could grind out a win with their ground game.

The Generals never let them find out if that was possible or not.

Wooster played a balanced game in all phases. Quarterback Dylan Dagley wreaked havoc on the Knights’ defense, and Wooster recorded a big 47-20 victory that was impressive start to finish.

Every coach talks about winning in each of three phases of football: offense, defense and special teams. Wooster came away a clear-cut victor in all three phases as multiple Generals made key plays to help Wooster gain a big league victory.

“I felt like if we got a lead in the game that we’d have been able to grind them out,” Gardner said. “That never happened. We had opportunities in the second half twice to take the lead, and we were unable to, due to our execution.”

While West Holmes was squandering chances, Wooster was making good on many of them, especially in the second half when it pulled away. That led to a quality win that excited Wooster head coach Doug Haas.

“This is very satisfying,” Haas said following the win. “Kudos to that team. I have all the respect for coach Gardner and what he is doing. But we were kind of able to seize momentum early, and while it feigned every now and again, we were able to seize it right back. We did the things that we needed to do in terms of this being a three-phase game.”

After getting a stop to start the game, Wooster took over possession and promptly went to work, Dagley connecting with Zach Marinello on a sensational one-handed catch down the sideline that set up a Dagley 20-yard scoring strike to Cam Fast for a 7-0 lead.

The two teams then traded stops with Wooster’s stop coming when Dagley burst through the Knights’ defense and blocked a field goal attempt by Mark Biltz. With the Knights in possession after a huge fourth-and-two first down pick-up by Cale Ogi, West Holmes quarterback Bridger Cline dropped back, threw deep and found Shane Jones on a 29-yard scoring strike to knot the game at 7-7.

Ogi came up with a big play in the half when he stripped Dagley, who had scrambled all over the field, but again the Knights couldn’t produce points.

Both teams again got defensive stops as what was expected to be a high-scoring game was settling in as a defensive battle, but Wooster’s special teams stepped up again, this time with Evan McGee blocking a kick that rolled backward nearly 30 yards and out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 9-7 Generals’ lead.

Wooster then got the ball, moved quickly downfield and produced a touchdown when Dagley kept a play alive with his feet and found Fast again on a 19-yard strike to make it 16-7.

With time winding down in the half, West Holmes took the ball deep in their own territory, and on the final play from the other side of the 50-yard line, the Knights sent a chill into the fans. Cline flipped a screen to Jones, who razzle-dazzled his way down the sideline to near the 10 before he was finally forced out of bounds.

The Generals came out of the locker room and immediately put the pressure on West Holmes by roaring downfield for a score when Dagley found Fast one more time.

“Obviously it was a great night for Dylan, but what he does so well is he extends plays,” Haas said. “He does such a great job keeping his eyes downfield, getting it to his open receivers, and credit our skilled players for having no egos whatsoever.”

West Holmes answered in kind when Cline hit Brady Taylor on a huge fourth-down play to the 2-yard line, and Gavin Sheldon took a wildcat snap and powered in to make it 23-13.

West Holmes then did itself no favors, committing three penalties on Wooster’s ensuing drive, and Dagley connected with Marinello from 15 yards out to push the lead back to 17 at 30-13.

Fast would produce yet another score, and the Generals began scoring at will, building the lead to 44-13 to pull away. Wooster would set off fireworks one more time, this time in the special teams area. Wooster lined up from 47 yards out and showcased the huge leg of kicker Joe Stoll, who absolutely destroyed a field goal that would have been good from much deeper. West Holmes would score a late TD when back-up quarterback Peyton McKinney found Braden Myers, but the game had been over long before that moment.

Wooster improved to 4-2 and remains undefeated in the OCC while the Knights fell to 4-1 and suffered their first loss in league play.

Statistically the game was not as lopsided as the score. Wooster gained 25 first downs to West Holmes’ 24, and the Generals racked up a total of 449 yards compared to the Knights’ 437. Turnovers were even.

Perhaps the biggest difference on the night was Dagley’s ability to keep plays alive with his feet, giving his Generals several opportunities to extend drives when it appeared as though West Holmes had them stymied.

“He’s a playmaker, and he went out and made plays tonight,” Gardner said. “He’s a senior, so we will be happy to see him graduate.”

After feeling the elation of victory the first five weeks, the Knights finally felt the sting of defeat, but Gardner said they can grow and learn from this game as much as in victory.

“We told our kids that it is how we respond to this that really matters,” Gardner said of the Knights’ first loss.

Gardner said all of the goals they had set for this season are still well within reach. “I don’t think the way we played tonight is indicative of our abilities as a team and the things we are capable of, and we are going to come back,” he said.

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