Wadsworth's Barrett Labus celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Twinsburg during the first quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
TWINSBURG — Playing for the first time without record-setting slot receiver Carson Risher, Wadsworth’s defense made sure the offense had nothing to worry about.
The Grizzlies allowed just 34 yards and one first down while racing to a five-score lead at halftime Friday en route to a 41-0 Suburban League National Conference win against second-place Twinsburg.
The defense, which pitched a shutout for the second time in three games, was keyed by a pair of interceptions from senior Jake Herbert, who broke the school season record with his eighth interception — all coming in the last five games.
“I was seeing the ball well. I felt like all of my teammates were tonight,” Herbert said, quickly crediting his front line for its work in the past month. “It’s all about that front six — two of the interceptions were tipped and the others were caused by their pressure — so it’s all about them making it easy for me.”
Junior linebacker Jack Grice had a sack, fumble recovery and another tackle for loss for Wadsworth (8-0, 5-0), while Jamison Jackson had 1½ tackles for loss and Mason McMillen added a tackle for loss and a hard hit on quarterback Max Brazie that led to the second Herbert interception. None of the starters played in the second half.
“I had zero doubt they’d be prepared,” Wadsworth coach Justin Todd said. “They’re hungry.”
Risher broke the Medina County single-game record for receiving yards (267) against Wooster this season and was leading the county in catches and yards, but injured his left foot last week in a win over North Royalton. The senior was on crutches Friday night, and the Grizzlies turned to their ground game without him.
Wadsworth ran for 176 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, with Dom Loparo getting 83 yards and two scores and Brock Snowball plowing through the Tigers (4-4, 3-2) for 55 and a TD.
“It was really about the opportunity for other guys to step up,” Todd said. “We’ve got two guys who are out for the year now, and we said the best way that we can honor those guys is with the way we play. They’re hard workers, and we need to play that way for them.”
Loparo said it was good to get the running game in gear.
“If one thing is not working, we can always ground and pound with me and (Snowball),” he said. “Our offensive line is amazing, and they work so hard during the week.”
Wadsworth’s first four possessions started in Twinsburg territory, as the Tigers’ lone first down in the half came on a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
After punting on their first drive, the Grizzlies forced a fumble that was recovered by Grice at the Tigers 46. Six plays later, Loparo found room up the middle from 4 yards.
After a three-and-out, Wadsworth took just three plays to go 47 yards, with Trey Shaffer finding Barret Labus wide open on a fly pattern down the left side for a 31-yard score.
Herbert stepped in front of a Brazie pass on the next series and returned it to the Tigers 27. Labus ran a jet sweep for 23 yards on the first play and carried again from 4 yards for a 20-0 lead.
On the first Wadsworth drive starting from its own side of the 50, the Grizzlies took eight plays to score, with a 25-yard pass to Tyler Montgomery the key to the drive. Loparo went in from 4 yards for the 27-0 lead, and Snowball added a 7-yard TD run on the next drive for a 34-0 halftime lead.
Josh Bach closed the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown with 4:09 left. The junior finished with 15 carries for 79 yards in relief of Loparo and Snowball.
Contact Chris Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 41, Twinsburg 0
WADSWORTH 14 20 0 7 — 41
TWINSBURG 0 0 0 0 — 0
W — Dom Loparo 4 run (Blake Turano kick), 3:47.
W — Barret Labus 31 pass from Trey Shaffer (Turano kick), 1:07.
W — Labus 4 run (kick blocked), 10:54.
W — Loparo 4 run (Turano kick), 6:36.
W — Brock Snowball 7 run (Turano kick), 2:02.
W — Josh Bach 10 run (Alejandro Magro kick), 4:09.