WADSWORTH — It was the first football game played on the new FieldTurf at Art Wright Memorial Stadium and fans of both teams packed the stands for the season opener between Wadsworth and Ashland.
With the Arrows looking to win through the air and Wadsworth utilizing a steady ground game, the teams could not have been more opposite. Both have players that suit their philosophies perfectly.
The ground and pound won out, with the Grizzlies taking the non-conference matchup 35-7. Ashland led 7-6 at halftime and it looked like it would go down to the wire, but the Grizzlies looked like a different team in the second half.
In his debut as a varsity starter, Ashland senior Nick Zurcher connected on 24-of- 34 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown. The Grizzlies countered with senior running back Martice Jackson, who rushed 25 times for 213 yards and a score.
“It’s not easy playing against a team like that,” Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said. “We actually put a lot of time in during two-a-day practices in preparing against that type of passing attack.”
Ashland totaled only 37 rushing yards on 23 attempts. Two of those carries came in the game’s final 30 seconds, when the Arrows conceded to running out the clock, and 17 were by Zurcher when forced to scramble on pass plays.
On the flip side, the Grizzlies were just 4-of-11 through the air for 48 yards, but rushed 46 times for 295 yards.
“They got some holes made and knocked off some nice runs,” Ashland coach Scott Valentine said. “We knew that Wadsworth could run the ball, and that’s what they did.”
Wadsworth struck first on a 1-yard run by Greg Young midway through the opening quarter, but the extra-point kick failed. The Arrows capped a nine-play drive in the second quarter with a 3-yard strike from Zurcher to Jacob Allton (5 catches, 42 yards).
The Grizzlies scored on their opening drive of the second half when Jackson ran in from 2 yards out. He began the possession with a 59-yard tote down the left sideline. Quarterback Adam Dennison connected with Eric Perebzak on the two-point conversion to make it 14-7.
From there, Wadsworth’s defense took over and held the Arrows scoreless the rest of the way. Tyler Erbse had 2½ sacks, while his fellow linemen applied constant pressure to Zurcher.
“Our defensive line played well,” Greg Dennison said. “We knew we had to put pressure on the quarterback and our coverage downfield helped our line get that done.”
Senior running back Scott Campbell (9 carries, 70 yards) made it 21-7 with a 13-yard run up the middle to close the third quarter. Wadsworth scored on a 2-yard run by Dennison and a 55-yard run by junior Shane Mast in the fourth quarter.
“I think that it was a pretty good start for me and the team,” Jackson said. “We have some work to do, but overall we did OK for the first game.”
Contact Kenneth Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 35, Ashland 7
WADSWORTH 6 0 15 14 — 35
ASHLAND 0 7 0 0 — 7
W — Greg Young 1 run (Kick blocked), 5:51.
A — Jacob Allton 3 pass from Nick Zurcher (Dominic Donofrio kick), 7:14.
W — Martice Jackson 2 run (Eric Perebzak pass from Adam Dennison), 9:52.
W — Scott Campbell 13 run (A. Campbell kick), 0:41.
W — Dennison 2 run (A. Campbell kick), 6:50.
W — Shane Mast 55 run (A. Campbell kick), 1:19.