By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Most nights, teams that turn the ball over seven times don’t find themselves in position to drive for a game-tying TD.
Yet that’s just the situation Goshen found itself in Friday night against Wawasee: Trailing 21-14, and driving.
But Wawasee’s Brandin McCulloch intercepted a Goshen pass and returned it 63 yards for a pick-six and game-clinching TD.
Wawasee (5-4 overall, 4-3 NLC) heads into next week’s Class 4A Sectional 11 tournament winners of three straight.
“This was all about our defense tonight,” Wawasee coach Tom Wogomon said.
Trouble taking care of the football was the story of the night for the Redskins, who coughed the ball up three times in the first quarter alone en route to nine giveaways on the night: Five fumbles and four interceptions.
Goshen coach Mike Cheviron said his team made some plays on both sides of the ball — but the turnovers were too costly.
After taking the opening kickoff, the Redskins (2-7, 2-5) got a nice pass play on first down, but on second down they fumbled, and Wawasee recovered at the Goshen 38.
It took just three plays for the Warriors to capitalize, sophomore quarterback Gabe Reinhard connecting with Clayton Cook on a 24-yard TD pass. With only a minute gone, the Warriors led, 7-0.
Disaster struck for the Redskins on the ensuing kickoff, as Goshen again lost a fumble. But the Redskins’ defense held stout.
The Redskins moved the ball effectively on the next possession — but again they put the ball on the ground, and again the Warriors made the Redskins pay. Senior defensive lineman Chad Eppley picked up the ball and rumbled to the Goshen 5 before being dragged down from behind. One play later, it was Derek Sorenson punching it in from there to give Wawasee a 14-0 lead.
The Warriors capitalized on yet another Goshen turnover early in the second stanza — this one an interception — and took a 21-0 lead on an 8-yard pass from Reinhard to Austin Lutz.
Goshen finally cracked the scoreboard late in the first half, DeMeyer sneaking over from the Warrior 1 with 40 seconds left until intermission.
Goshen got a key defensive big play and took over deep in Wawasee territory early in the third quarter, but the Redskins could not convert on a very short field and turned the ball over on downs.
The second half was a battle of field position: Goshen had plenty of chances on offense, but could not capitalize.
That finally changed with 2:16 left, when DeMeyer and Henke hooked up on a 9-yard TD strike set up by another DeMeyer-Henke pass completion — this one for a first down to the Wawasee 9 on third-and-32.
But that would prove to be the Redskins’ last score of the night.
The Redskins open Class 5A, Sectional 2 play next Friday night at home against South Bend Adams. Wawasee hits the road to the northeast corner of the Hoosier state for a Class 4A, Sectional 11 quarterfinal contest at DeKalb.