Wadsworth's Cole McComas intercepts a pass intended for Cuyahoga Falls' Daizhaun Brazile during the first quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
WADSWORTH — Defensive backs Jake Herbert, Alec Miller, Cole McComas, Ryan Salzgeber and Robbie Lynn made life miserable for quarterback Braunavan Arsenault.
The Wadsworth football team knew beginning the second half with a running clock was not guaranteed Friday in a Suburban League National Conference game with Cuyahoga Falls, which was one week removed from snapping a 23-game losing streak.
The Black Tigers have a new lease on life under fiery first-year coach Shane Parker, and that showed in a competitive first half.
However, the Grizzlies defense did what it has usually done this season — dominate — and six interceptions were all coach Justin Todd’s team needed in a closer-than-it-appeared 42-0 victory that did not reach running clock status until the 5:03 mark of the third quarter.
Wadsworth (6-0, 3-0) has won by an average of 29.9 points during its 17-game regular-season winning streak.
“I mean, six interceptions?” a smiling Miller said. “It’s hard to lose with that many interceptions. It’s great. I love it.”
Though the Grizzlies could have reached 600 yards total offense if the score was closer, this night belonged to the “D.” Cuyahoga Falls running back Robert Graves was coming off a 257-yard outburst against Brecksville but had only 44 of his 110 against Wadsworth’s first string.
Playing in place of injured starter Tyler Vassalotti, Arsenault made a bunch of beautiful timing throws in the range of 7 to 20 yards along his sideline — Eric Rosiak had seven receptions for 111 yards — and finished 16-for-36 for 206 yards. The junior also faced tremendous pressure all night, mainly from All-Gazette middle linebacker Mason McMillen, and scrambled well in the first half.
Four of the interceptions were returned for a combined 183 yards, highlighted by a 60-yard pick-six by Lynn — his second interception TD of the season — with 3:22 to play. Herbert had two interceptions, while Miller tipped one to himself while diving backward. The other picks were by McComas and Salzgeber.
“We knew they were coming off a big win — their first in how-many-ever games it was,” said Miller, whose team has forced a Medina County-leading 18 turnovers. “They were going to come out and play, so we just had to deal with that and do our best.”
The Grizzlies’ 21-0 lead could have been 35-0 after a bizarre first half, as they failed to score on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line and threw an interception in the end zone. Cuyahoga Falls (1-5, 1-2) ran a whopping 48 plays for 178 yards but threw three interceptions and came up a yard shy on fourth down from the Wadsworth 14 and 26.
Brock Snowball (13 carries, 177 yards) scored his second touchdown on a 94-yarder right up the gut to make the score 14-0, and Dom Loparo (10, 134) went 80 yards to the house on first-and-27 just 2:29 later. It was the first time in school history the Grizzlies scored two rushing TDs of at least 80 yards in a game.
Wadsworth finished the half with 25 plays for 326 yards. Even without the home-run TDs, it averaged 6.6 yards per snap as linemen Mason Fortner, Logan Egleston, Zach Linn, Luke Sommers and Matt Gabel moved the line of scrimmage with ease.
“It’s just fun playing,” Gabel said. “We’re able to switch guys out if we need to and we haven’t missed a step. We’re just playing really well together and we have good team chemistry.”
The Grizzlies went up 28-0 early in the third quarter on a 27-yard Trey Shaffer pass to Carson Risher (6 catches, 100 yards) on fourth-and-18, while Loparo scored from 3 yards immediately after Herbert returned his second interception 28 yards.
Cuyahoga Falls drove inside the Wadsworth 10 after Lynn’s pick-six, but Ethan Russell broke up a pass in the corner of the end zone in the final seconds to preserve the shutout.
With six interceptions and a donut on the scoreboard, the Grizzlies considered Friday a good tune-up for North Royalton star quarterback Joey Marousek next week.
“We weren’t playing our best in the first half,” Miller said. “We just had to fight through it.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
Wadsworth 42, Cuyahoga Falls 0
CUYAHOGA FALLS 0 0 0 0 — 0
WADSWORTH 7 14 14 7 — 42
W — Brock Snowball 1 run (Blake Turano kick), 2:43.
W — Snowball 94 run (Turano kick), 7:36.
W — Dom Loparo 80 run (Turano kick), 5:07.
W — Carson Risher 27 pass from Trey Shaffer (Turano kick), 8:13.
W — Loparo 3 run (Turano kick), 5:03.
W — Robbie Lynn 60 interception return (Turano kick), 3:22.