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High School Football

High school football: Weary Wadsworth pulls from behind to continue on to round two

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Wadworth's Ryan Salzgeber celebrates after breaking up a pass in in the end zone on a third down play to help preserve a 42-38 lead in the fourth quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

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WADSWORTH — Veteran Wadsworth safety Noah Alic and cornerback Ryan Salzgeber were emotionally drained. Man-among-boys Wooster quarterback Dylan Dagley and his talented receivers corps had run them ragged for 47½ minutes and were knocking on the door 6 yards from the end zone.

The undefeated Grizzlies somehow, someway found enough fumes left in the gas tank to continue their journey.

Salzgeber broke up end-zone passes on second and third down and Alic sacked Dagley with an ankle tackle on fourth down Friday, preserving a heart-palpitating 42-38 victory in a Division II, Region 7 playoff game that both schools will remember for decades.

Tying the 1999, 2011 and 2017 school record for victories, third-seeded Wadsworth advanced to play No. 7 Dresden Tri-Valley (10-1) at a site to be determined.

“I’m extremely emotional,” a teary-eyed Salzgeber said. “That’s just an amazing win.”

Rallying from a 24-7 first-half hole and taking the 42-38 lead on a Mason McMillen 6-yard run with 11:05 to play, the Grizzlies traded punts with the sixth-seeded Generals (8-3) — a rarity in a game with 1,024 yards total offense — before Wooster called for a fair catch on a 48-yard moonshot by sophomore Mitch Evans with 6:24 remaining.

Eighty-two yards or not, that was more than enough time for Ohio Cardinal Conference Player of the Year Dagley (25-for-37, 378 yards, 2 TDs; 18 carries, 27 yards) to work his magic.

Embarking on a march that eventually covered 18 plays, Dagley went under center for the only time to convert fourth-and-inches from his own 38-yard line — the Generals got away with a false start — picked up third-and-8 with his legs and got a gift courtesy of Wadsworth pass interference on third-and-13.

Consecutive completions of 14 and 10 yards to Jett Morgan put the ball on the 5, where running back Brayden Taylor was stuffed for no gain. The time had come for Wadsworth to put up or shut up with 30 seconds to play.

Salzgeber came through to break up a back-shoulder fade in the front corner of the end zone. The two-year starter then stripped Zach Marinello (7 catches, 77 yards, 2 TDs) in front of the goal post to set up the final play from the right hash.

Dagley dropped back but was quickly forced up the pocket by tremendous pressure. Alic came off the edge unblocked and wrapped up Dagley’s ankle to set off a wild celebration after an epic victory.

“I thought it was a great call because obviously they weren’t expecting it,” Alic said. “Our free safety (Jake Herbert) covered the other guy. It was gutsy, but it worked out.”

The rest of the night came down to brilliant offense by both teams.

Wadsworth had 321 yards while trailing 24-21 at halftime and finished with 522 on 66 plays, giving them 139 snaps for 1,156 yards against Wooster this season.

Rotating tailback/H-backs Brock Snowball (21 carries, 163, TD; 2 catches, 49 yards) and Dom Loparo (18, 124, 2; 4, 73) had 45 touches for 409 yards, slot receiver Barret Labus scored on two short jet sweeps and Trey Shaffer was 13-for-18 for 197 yards and two interceptions.

“We love the game, so not letting us get down on ourselves was a huge part,” Snowball said of failing behind by three scores. “We all kept our composure, kept our body language up, and that was a huge part to it. We were confident in ourselves.”

Despite going three-and-out on its first drive, Wooster finished with 502 yards on 71 plays as Dagley ran or threw on 55. The Generals abused the Grizzlies with perimeter passing early to open the gut for running back Trevar Meece (13 carries, 85 yards), then used Dagley’s incredible scrambling in the pocket to throw deep between the hashes.

“He is a helluva player,” Salzgeber said. “He’s a dude. He knows his stuff.”

Momentum flipped after Morgan returned a Shaffer interception 37 yards to make it 24-7 with 4:50 left before halftime. Wadsworth countered with Labus and Loparo TDs sandwiched around cornerback Brett Randolph’s first interception of the season to bring the deficit to three at recess.

The run stretched to 28-7 while taking a mere 13:04 off the clock. That made the score 35-31 Grizzlies with 3:33 to go in the third quarter, but Dagley found Marinello from 4 yards only 1:27 later. Wadsworth capped the scoring when McMillen, who had subbed in after Snowball tweaked his leg on the second-to-last play of the third, rumbled off the left side to cap a quick 80-yard drive.

With the way the night was going, each team reaching 50 points seemed likely. Wadsworth finally got a stop when Jamisen Jackson tackled Dagley on second-and-long and Dagley could only scramble 2 yards on third-and-16 to set up a punt.

Little did the Grizzlies know they would need to do it again with the season at stake.

“I’m just really excited,” Alic said. “That was a nail-biter that came down to the end.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Wadsworth 42, Wooster 38

Division II, Region 7 Quarterfinal

at Art Wright Memorial Stadium

WOOSTER 7 17 14 0 — 38

WADSWORTH 0 21 14 7 — 42

First

Wo — Zach Marinello 30 pass from Dylan Dagley (Joe Stoll kick), 7:59.

Second

Wo — Stoll 25 field goal, 11:15.

Wa — Brock Snowball 15 run (Blake Turano kick), 7:34.

Wo — Trevar Meece 13 run (Stoll kick), 4:50.

Wo — Kristian Scalf 37 interception return (Stoll kick), 4:37.

Wa — Barret Labus 16 run (Turano kick), 2:45.

Wa — Dom Loparo 3 run (Turano kick), 0:55.

Third

Wa — Labus 6 run (Turano kick), 8:28.

Wo — Dagley 9 run (Stoll kick), 5:57.

Wa — Loparo 3 run (Turano kick), 3:33.

Wo — Marinello 4 pass from Dagley (Stoll kick), 2:06.

Fourth

Wa — Mason McMillen 6 run (Turano kick), 11:05.

Wo Wa

First downs 25 26

— by rushing 7 17

— by passing 17 9

— by penalty 1 0

Rushing 34/124 48/325

Rushing average 3.6 6.8

Passing 25/37 13/18

Passing yards 378 197

Avg. per attempt 10.2 10.9

Avg. per completion 15.1 15.2

Total offense 71/502 66/522

Avg. gain 7.1 7.9

Punting 2/33.0 1/48.0

Third-down conversions 4/12 6/9

Fourth-down conversions 2/3 1/2

Penalties 5/30 2/20

Fumbles 2/1 1/0

Time of possession 24:33 23:27

WOOSTER

Rushing

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Meece 13 85 6.5 1

Dagley 18 27 1.3 1

Joey Lyons 2 12 6.0 0

Brayden Taylor 1 0 0.0 0

Receiving

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Cam Fast 7 122 19.7 0

Lonnie Harper 2 85 42.5 0

Marinello 7 77 11.0 2

Logan Kotulock 4 45 11.3 0

Jett Morgan 4 43 10.8 0

Lyons 1 6 6.0 0

Passing

Name Com. Att. Pct. Yds TD-I

Dagley 25 37 .676 378 2-1

WADSWORTH

Rushing

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Snowball 21 163 7.8 1

Loparo 18 124 6.9 2

Labus 5 34 6.8 2

McMillen 1 6 6.0 1

Shaffer 2 3 1.5 0

Team 1 -5 -5.0 0

Receiving

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Loparo 4 73 18.3 0

Snowball 2 49 24.5 0

Tyler Montgomery 3 44 14.7 0

Labus 4 31 7.8 0

Passing

Name Com. Att. Pct. Yds TD-I

Shaffer 13 18 .722 197 0-2



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