WATERFORD - It's every coach's dream to make the opponent into a one dimensional offense.
Well, the Waterford Wildcats certainly succeeded at that, holding the visiting Federal Hocking Lancers to minus-15 yards rushing on 21 carries at Waterford Elementary School Friday night.
And even though Federal Hocking was able to use its air attack to put up some yardage, in the end it wasn't nearly enough to deflate the Wildcats as Waterford's defense held strong down the stretch to guide the Wildcats to a 20-9 victory.
"We had I think three break downs on 3rd-and-long, but other than that our defense played lights out," said Waterford football coach Chad Ross.
Lights out was certainly the description of the Waterford defense against the ground game as Federal Hocking had rushed 11 times and lost 36 yards in the first half of play.
Still, despite that loss of yardage on the ground the Lancers still held the halftime advantage, 9-6 over the Wildcats.
"I'm proud of every one of them. They played their hearts out," said Federal Hocking football coach Doug Miller.
Of course, while the Lancers were moving the ball through the air, compiling 152 yards in the first half on 7-of-16 attempts, there wasn't quite so much available in the second half and Federal Hocking began paying for all those attempts.
Waterford ended up with four sacks in the game, two by Tyler Pyatt, and also had a pair of interceptions as the defense began punishing Lancer quarterback Alex Nichols every time he dropped back. Between Pyatt and Jake Stewart, the linebackers like Moore and Joab Camp were left alone to wreak havoc.
Waterford 20, Federal Hocking 9
Federal Hocking 0 9 0 0 -9
Waterford 6 0 7 7 - 20
W: Trevor Lang 1 run (kick fail) 3:09
FH: Safety (fumble recovered in end zone) 3:06
FH: Peyton Seel 34 pass from Alex Nichols (Terrance Mayle kick) 2:31
W: Hunter Munjas 1 run (Cody Paxton kick) 6:15
W: Trevor Lang 51 run (Cody Paxton kick) 8:27
FEDERAL HOCKING (0-2): First downs 7; Rushes/yds 21-(-15); Passing yds 193; Passing (comp/att/TD/int) 11-30-0-2; Total yds 178; Punts/avg. 5-27.4; Penalties/yds 9/47; Fumbles/lost 2/1
WATERFORD (2-0): First downs 12; Rushes/yds 46-186; Passing yds 100; Passing (comp/att/TD/int) 5-14-0-0; Total yds 286; Punts/avg. 4-29.5; Penalties/yds 3/25; Fumbles/lost 2/1
Federal Hocking: Rushing: Delbert Crum 10-24; Peyton Seel 2-13; Alex Nichols 8-(-53); Terrance Mayle 1-1; Passing: Alex Nichols 11-26-193 yds, 1 int.; Kyle Jackson 0-4-0 yds, 1 int.; Receiving: Andrew Smith 1-3; Terrance Mayle 5-79; Peyton Seel 2-42; Kyle Jackson 3-69
Waterford: Rushing: Matt West 15-65; Brian Moore 1-(-6);Hunter Munjas 12-46, TD; Trevor Lang 14-81, 2 TDs; Joab Camp 2-6; Passing: Trevor Lang 5-14-100 yds; Receiving: Kyle Miller 1-36; Brian Moore 3-69; Matt West 1-(-5)
Next game: Fort Frye at Waterford, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9
"It's the three things - low, hard and fast. The ends, linebackers, everybody got back there (backfield) and caused trouble," Pyatt said.
Causing trouble was right up the Wildcats alley as the defense bottled up the Lancer ground attack, including running back Delbert Crum who rushed for 115 yards a week ago but was held to just 24 yards on 10 carries Friday.
"They tried to move the ball earlier on but our defense played really well against the run," Ross said.
Crum eventually left the game due to heat exhaustion in the second half, as several Lancer players struggled to deal with the high temperatures that hit the valley as the thermometer reach 93 degrees Friday, removing the top offensive threat for the Lancers.
"When your key running back comes out you have to change the game," Miller said.
Waterford's players also dealt with the heat, but using ice baths and lots of water remained under control.
"Everybody really played differently with the heat. Some people it didn't affect at all, others got sick," Pyatt said.
But in the end, losing Crum to the heat really didn't matter as the Lancers never could get the ground attack going and in the second half even the passing game went MIA.
"Offense is there, defense is there. Just a couple of our key players that need to go both ways couldn't," Miller said.
In the second half Federal Hocking managed just 41 yards passing and 21 rushing. Waterford surpassed those totals on its second possession of the third quarter.
Down 9-6 to start the second half, the Wildcats came out with a little trickery as Waterford successfully pulled off an onside kick, with Hunter Munjas recovering the ball.
The first offensive play for the Wildcats was more trickery, an end around, but Brian Moore fumbled the hand off and the Lancers took possession.
With Federal Hocking in Wildcat territory, the Waterford defense held strong, forcing a turnover on downs when Nichols was called for intentional grounding as he tried to avoid another sack.
Seven plays later the Wildcats took the lead for good when Munjas plunged into the end zone from one yard out.
"We talked (at halftime) about making big plays at big times. Second half, I thought our playmakers made big plays," Ross said.
The teams traded three-and-outs for the next four offensive series, before the Lancers began to move the ball, advancing to the Waterford 37-yard line. Another grounding call as Nichols again tried to avoid a sack brought the ball back to the Lancer 46 and the ensuing pass attempt was picked off by Matt West, who brought the ball back to midfield.
"I thought the DBs really stepped it up from last game," West said.
West, who rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries, went down on the first play from scrimmage after his interception with a minor leg injury, and as his teammates consoled him on the sideline, quarterback Trevor Lang took the next play and galloped 51 yards into the end zone.
"The line, they're just tearing them up in there," West said. "Can't really run the ball unless the offense blocks."
Following West's interception, the Lancer's made a quarterback change and Federal Hocking only had one pass after that caught, and that was by Lang.
In fact, Federal Hocking ran just five plays from scrimmage after Lang's touchdown set the final score.
"Both teams played really well. It was a hard fought game," Pyatt said.
After the Lancers took possession at their 37, Lang intercepted Kyle Jackson's pass at the 48 and Waterford proceeded to run the final 5:17 off the clock, with Lang kneeling twice to end the game.
Waterford opened the game's scoring in the first quarter when Lang scored from one yard out on the Wildcats' second offensive series. West provided the bulk of the damage as he rushed eight times for 43 yards on the drive.
"The line and my fullback made all the good blocks for me," West said.
Federal Hocking got on the board thanks to the Waterford defense making an impressive goal line stand at the Wildcats' three-yard line.
Backed up against their own goal line, the Wildcats fumbled a handoff and Lang was forced to cover the ball in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing possession, Federal Hocking covered 40 yards on four plays with Nichols finding Peyton Seel from 34 yards out to make the score 9-6 with 2:31 to go before halftime.
After that, however, it was all Wildcats.
"It's a good win (Friday) night. They have some good athletes over there," Ross said.