this season was going to be a battle for his team. Week 4 did not
disappoint as Shenandoah and Central traded blows in a slugfest Friday
at Cadiz. Shenandoah finally came away with the win as it outlasted Central 32-26.
Shenandoah finally came away with the win as it outlasted Central 32-26.
Central looked like the favorite as they ran through the Zeps defense at will on the opening series. Wes Skinner returned the opening kick to the Huskies 34-yard line. Taylor Banks ran it in from 25 yards out two plays later to give the Huskies the early lead, 6-0, with 9:57 remaining.
Shenandoah did not panic, it responded with a quick score. Quarterback Cody Johnson hit Bill Miley with a swing pass and he carried it 52 yards to Central’s nine-yard line. Johnson then sent a nice touch pass over the defense to Cody Farmer and tied it up, 6-6, just four minutes and 13 seconds in.
On the next possession Johnson picked off his counterpart, Harrison Central quarterback Robbie Davia at the 31-yard line. The Zeps coughed up the ball on the next play and the possession arrow pointed back to the Huskies, but coach Tim Wilson’s defense stepped up and sacked Davia on fourth and four to get the ball back. Ian Woodward sent the ball back over the line of scrimmage as he intercepted Johnson on the 36. Then the ball squirted back onto the turf. The Zeps recovered but punted it back to the men in black after just three snaps. Harrison Central also stalled on offense and punted it back.
This time Bill Miley found the seam to return the ball 45 yards to the house for the lead 12-6 with 11:43 remaining in the first half.
The Huskies turnover troubles continued as they fumbled away the pigskin on the next drive. The defense got them the ball back and this time the Huskies ground attack cut through the green defense like a knife through hot butter. The three members of the Huskies wishbone attack shared the duty as fullback Justin Valentine, Skinner and Banks took just 4 plays to cover 46 yards where Banks took it across the goal line to tie it back up at 12.
The score remained knotted at the break. The big story of the first half may have been that Davia was a disappointing 0-for-3 with a pick in the first 24 minutes. “Our receivers were getting open, but something just was not clicking,” said Huskies Head Coach Justin Kropka, “They did a nice job of scheming away some of the things we wanted to do with our passing game but that opened up some things with the run.’ The ground game was rolling up the stripes as the Huskies had 176 yards on 22 totes with Banks leading the pack with 93 yards on 10 carries.
Kropka’s Huskies came out in the second half and looked like they had a renewed attitude. The defense stuffed the Zeps three-and-out then the ground attack methodically moved 52 yards in 11 plays where Davia capped the drive with a quarterback sneak over the stripe to retake the lead 18-12 at the 3:44 mark.
Then the Zeps talented running back Joey Wheeler showed why he is one of the top backs in the region by taking a throwback pass on second down and weaving through the Huskies secondary for 65 yards to knot it back up at 18 apiece with 2:42 still to play in the third stanza.
The Huskies were flagged for motion on third and one and did not convert and punted it back to the visitors. The quick strike capability of Wheeler was highlighted once again on the first snap of the Zeps next series as Wheeler took it 60 yards for his second touchdown. On a night where extra points were at a premium, the Zeps used a little trickeration to convert for two as a fake swing pass was followed by Wheeler taking it up the middle to give Shenandoah a 26-18 lead with just 9 ticks left before the final frame.
The rain had started to fall in sheets at Cadiz but as it subsided midway through the fourth period the Huskies began to drive again. Banks carried the load as the boys in blue, black and silver traversed the 87 yards to their opponents’ goal line in 8 plays. Kropka showed he has some fun built into his play book as Davia’s screen pass was forwarded by Ty Kenny to a streaking Ryan Davenport who pulled it down and went 40 yards for the score. Davia ran the ball in at the right pylon to even the score at 26.
Once again the Zeps were quick to respond and once again it was to be Wheeler who took the hand off on a draw play and cut his way through the Huskies defense for 57 yards to the Huskies 3 yard line. Wheeler took the plunge from there to weight the score in favor of the Zeps 32-26. The two point conversion pass was broken up by the Huskies defense and Harrison Central went back to work with 3:11 left in the contest.
Banks and Skinner again combined to move the Huskies down the field, but with time running out Davia went for it all on second down from the 36 yard line. The pass was intercepted by Jacob Hupp, icing the win for Shenandoah as they move to 3-1 on the season.
“We were worried about the Huskies overall team speed, on film they looked fast and tonight they looked twice as fast,” said Zeps coach Wilson, “It scared me, we couldn’t stop the run and I didn’t know what we were going to do, but the defense stepped up nicely; they did a great job and kept us in it.”
“It was about the game I expected; They played hard and our kids played hard as well, they just made one more play than we did at the end of the game,” said Huskies’ coach Kropka, “It was a heck of a game, we just need to learn to finish and win the close ones; it’s just part of the maturing process as a program.”
With the exception of Wheeler’s 69 yard performance, the Huskies defense held the remainder of the Zeps roster to negative yardage. Johnson was 4 of 9 passing for 127 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and rushing 8 times for 8 yards as Shenandoah totaled 293 for the game.