Trevor Arnett, Contributor
WAVERLY — As the old saying goes, “better late than never.”
Waverly’s high-powered offense didn’t show up on Friday night until after halftime. But when it did, it roared to life.
After a sluggish first half that saw the game tied at 14-14, the Tigers (2-0) ripped off 21 points in the third quarter, and added seven more in the fourth to push past the visiting Johnstown Johnnies by a 42-14 final.
“We probably played as sloppily as I’ve seen us play in a while [in the first half],” Waverly coach Chris Crabtree said after the game. “Going into the half, we told them it’s a whole new ball game. It’s 0-0. If we go out now and play our best football, things will take care of themselves.”
Waverly closed out the first half with zero rushing yards as a team. Zero. Save an 80-yard touchdown reception by senior receiver Penn Morrison just before halftime and the Tigers offense only mustered 55 total yards in the first half.
But behind more big plays from Morrison and strong running from sophomore halfback Jase Hurd, Waverly put together a highlight reel in the second half, tallying almost 300 total yards of offense and 28 unanswered points.
“[Johnstown] was coming off a loss and it was to a really good team. So we didn’t really know how good they were,” Morrison said. “They were good. We were just better. We executed well in the second half and just blew them away.”
The night began with a lightning delay just as both teams took the field for the opening kickoff.
The 7:30 slotted kickoff time became an 8:10 kick and, after returning to a windy and wet field from the shelter of the locker room, the Johnnies received the opening boot.
Johnstown (0-2) was unable to generate much movement on their first drive and would eventually punt the ball away. The Johnstown defense, however, came out on fire, applying heavy pressure on Waverly quarterback Wade Futhey on his first few dropbacks of the game.
On a third and long play, the Johnnies brought the blitz and connected with Futhey just before he let the ball go, sending the ball to the turf. Both teams had multiple opportunities to recover as the ball squirted 24 yards down the field before being recovered by the Johnnies.
Johnstown quickly capitalized behind junior running back Nathan Sheets and senior quarterback Joe Sahr. Those two led their teammates on a drive that culminated in a four-yard rumble from Sheets to put Johnstown on the board first with a 7-0 lead.
After Johnstown forced and recovered another fumble at its own 1-yard line, Waverly’s defense came dangerously close to forcing a safety twice on the ensuing three plays. The Johnnies were able to punt but it gave Waverly excellent field position and the Tigers capitalized quickly.
Hurd found paydirt for the first time on the night and leveled the score at 7-7 with a three-yard run, where it would remain as the first quarter expired.
On Johnstown’s second drive of the second quarter, the drive stalled at Waverly’s 31-yard line, where the Johnnies faced a 4th and 1. But not only did they move the chains, Sheets broke through the right side of the line and rumbled 31 yards to the end zone to give Johnstown a 14-7 edge with 6:55 left.
Closing in on halftime, Waverly took possession of the ball on its own 20 after a Johnstown’s punt rolled into the end zone. On the first play of the drive, Futhey hit Penn Morrison on the sideline and Morrison would tightrope 80 yards into the end zone for the game-tying score just before halftime.
But Morrison was just getting his night started.
With the help of Hurd, Morrison and the Tigers’ offense broke open the game in the third frame.
Coming out of the locker room, the Tigers leaned in heavily on their run game. Hurd eventually broke open the drive with a 48-yard run before being dragged down at the 1. Wade Futhey cashed in two plays later, spinning into the end zone on a quarterback keeper to give Waverly its first lead of the game at 42-14.
Waverly’s defense then put the clamps on Johnstown’s run game. Junior defensive end Wyatt Crabtree chased down Sahr to end Johnstown’s first drive of the second half. And averly’s offense would strike quickly on the ensuing drive.
After more strong running from Hurd, Futhey found Morrison again on the seam for a 33-yard score, extending the lead to 28-14.
And Morrison wasn’t done yet.
After advancing to midfield, Johnstown fumbled on a fullback dive and a scrum for the football ensued. Morrison came out of the pile with the football in his hands.
With a fumble recovery and two touchdowns already under his belt, he added to his stellar night as Futhey rewarded him with another touchdown pass, this time from 14 yards out, giving the Tigers a 35-14 lead at the end of the third.
“Coach got onto us a little bit and told us we were being sloppy,” Morrison said. “I don’t like being called sloppy. So we fixed it up, came out and played our best.”
Waverly’s final score came on a 74-yard drive that took over four minutes off the clock. It was capped by a four-yard touchdown plunge from Hurd to put the win on ice.
“Thanks goes to my line,” Hurd said. “I had to just go off of them. They got me what I needed. And I did what I did. I feel like we played really well. We had a rough start but our offense started going.”
The combination of Morrision and Hurd accounted for 333 yards and five of Waverly’s six touchdowns.
Morrison recorded 189 yards receiving on seven catches alongside three scores and added two forced turnovers on defense. Wade Futhey put together another stellar outing, going 17-of-22 passing for 290 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score. Hurd ended with
144 yards on 23 carries, finding the end zone twice.
Will Futhey also chipped in with five catches for 64 yards while Crabtree had 28 yards receiving on two catches.
For Johnstown, Sheets led the offense with 64 yards on 11 carries and two rushing touchdowns. Sahr was 5-of11 passing for 63 yards and threw two interceptions while adding 82 rushing yards to his totals.
Defensively for Waverly, Ty Evans led the way with 8.5 tackles while Wyatt Crabtree and JT Barnett each had eight tackles apiece. Crabtree also recorded two sacks.
Waverly, still undefeated on the year, now enters a tough stretch of its schedule as the team’s next four contests will be on the road. The Tigers travel to Unioto in Week 3 before heading to Chillicothe the following Friday.
|5-11, 63 yards||Passing||17-22, 290 yards|
|44 rushes, 178 yards||Rushing||38 rushes, 137 yards|
|55 plays, 241 yards||Offense||60 plays, 427 yards|
|11 – 99 yards||Penalties||7 – 62 yards|