MEDINA — Wadsworth receiver Ryan Looser made the biggest play of the game and running back Martice Jackson and his offensive line dominated the rest of it.
Put them together and the Grizzlies stayed perfect Friday with a 26-13 non-league victory over Medina, which was without injured inside linebacker Brent Lary to start the game and lost fellow inside backer Chris Davis in the first half.
The 5-foot-8, 209-pound Jackson rushed 33 times for 238 yards and two touchdowns, with most of it coming between the tackles.
Medina knew what was coming, but with guys like 274-pound Chandler Martinez and 256-pound Tyler Erbse leading the way on the right side, the Bees had virtually no luck stopping the play coach Dan Sutherland called “the lead.”
“They did what we thought they were going to do — the lead,” Sutherland said. “No. 11’s a helluva back. We just couldn’t get off the field defensively.
“That’s all they run. They ran it on Wooster 30 times and they ran it on Ashland 30 times. They run it well. We practiced all week for it and still couldn’t stop it.”
A varsity player since he was a freshman, Jackson went 64 yards for a TD on his second carry and 11 yards for another score to put Wadsworth up 26-6 early in the fourth quarter. He has 85 carries for 646 yards through three games.
“It’s very humbling,” Jackson said. “My team is there with me. I can’t do it all by myself.”
When Jackson wasn’t killing the Bees (1-2), Looser was.
After Medina tied the game 6-6 — both teams botched their first extra-point attempts — on a 7-yard pass from Collin Minor to Tim Jenkins with 52.6 seconds left in the opening quarter, Looser returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to set up a 30-yard Aden Campbell field goal.
Looser, a 6-2, 179-pound senior, also picked off Minor (8-for-14, 89 yards) midway through the fourth quarter, but his biggest play of the night came on offense.
Up 9-6 and facing fourth-and-12 from the Medina 16 late in the first half, Wadsworth elected to go for it even though Campbell had just connected on a field goal from virtually the same distance.
“We felt we had a good play throwing the fade,” Grizzlies coach Greg Dennison said. “It was one of those gut-instinct kind of things.”
For a second, it looked like Dennison was going to be sick to his stomach instead. Medina appeared to have intercepted the underthrown Adam Dennison (5-for-9, 63 yards) pass, only to have Looser wrestle the ball away in the left corner of the end zone.
“I reached over and tried to grab it from him,” Looser said. “I turned to the ref and said, ‘Ref, I’ve got it, I’ve got it.’
“I hope we take more gambles like that. I think I can pull them off.”
Up 16-6 at the half, the Grizzlies ran 14 plays to start the third quarter before settling for a 23-yard Campbell field goal, then made it 26-6 when Jackson ran in from 11 yards out on the second play of the fourth period.
Wadsworth finished with 290 yards rushing and punted just once, that coming with 5:02 left in the game.
“The blocking was great,” Jackson said. “The line worked hard all week. We knew what we were going to see and we went out and executed.”
With Lary out with a strained thigh and Davis and Jenkins lost to what could be serious ankle injuries, the Bees also had some success on offense, even with Wadsworth linebacker Nick Winkler making plays all over the field and 6-4, 317-pound tackle Jeremy Randolph delivering a few crushing hits.
Medina’s Jerry Klue carried six times for 88 yards, including a 5-yard TD that capped the scoring, while Ian Crawley rushed 14 times for 42 yards. Jenkins caught three passes for 35 yards before getting hurt and Jacob Vanadia had two catches for 31 yards.
Though it got a great game from safety Kenny Wilder, who also averaged 40.5 yards on two punts, the Medina defense wasn’t nearly as successful, allowing 22 first downs.
The Bees were also penalized eight times for 78 yards.
“We did a good job of bending,” Sutherland said, “but at some point we’ve got to get stops on third down.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Wadsworth 26, Medina 13
WADSWORTH 6 10 3 7 — 26
MEDINA 6 0 0 7 — 13
W — Martice Jackson 64 run (kick failed), 7:28.
M — Tim Jenkins 7 pass from Collin Minor (kick failed), :52.6.
W — Aden Campbell 30 field goal, 9:36.
W — Ryan Looser 16 pass from Adam Dennison (Campbell kick), 1:55.
W — Campbell 23 field goal, 4:25.
W — Jackson 11 run (Campbell kick), 11:18.
M — Jerry Klue 5 run (Dean McNeil kick), 7:47.