By Ryan Jones
BERLIN CENTER — Western Reserve High football coach Andy Hake knows that winning doesn’t always look pretty.
The Blue Devils’ second half Friday against Wellsville included some ugly statistics — zero first downs and eight total yards — but they held on for a 13-6 victory.
Western Reserve, ranked No. 16 in this week’s Associated Press state poll of Division VI teams, improved its record to 6-0, 3-0 Inter Tri-County League Tier Two.
“Teams don’t always win the way they are supposed to,” Hake said. “Wellsville played a great game. They got up to play against us after last week’s loss to McDonald.”
Trailing 13-0 early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers took over at their own 10-yard line after forcing Western Reserve into its second consecutive three-and-out of the second half.
On third-and-4 from the 16, quarterback Bubba Dowling hooked up with DeShon Pullie for a 49-yard pass play to the Blue Devils’ 35.
Later in the drive, Wellsville found itself in a fourth-and-21 after being flagged for holding and taking a sack. However, Dowling connected with Pullie for 27 yards to the 4.
One play later, Dowling snuck the ball in from one yard out to make the score 13-6 with 5:58 remaining.
“We knew they were going to give us their best game,” Hake said. “When we watched their tape against McDonald, we knew they were going to get back to what they do best.”
Wellsville (4-2, 1-2) forced Western Reserve into another three-and-out at its own 15-yard line and after a punt took over at the Blue Devils’ 26 with 3:45 remaining.
The Tigers pushed the ball to the 12 before Western Reserve’s Ed Newhouse sacked Dowling on third down and defensive back Clayton Hull broke up Dowling’s throw to Jeremy Carter on fourth down.
Hake said he watched his team grow with its defensive stand at the end of the game.
“Wellsville got us out of rhythm on offense in the second half — give them credit,” Hake said. “[Quarterback] Shane Ewing had a tough time and we missed some reads and assignments, but as great as Shane is we’re not a one man team and tonight our defense showed that.”
The Tigers took control of the game in the second half by way of a punishing running game. Carter, who rushed for 141 yards on 33 carries, totaled 44 yards on the first possession of the second half.
“Carter is as good as any player on any team in the league,” Hake said. “We couldn’t let him bust a long play.”
Wellsville head coach Dave Skinner said the turnovers ended up being the difference.
“We talked before the game that there were only a few teams that could beat us,” he said. “Tonight, we beat ourselves. We put the ball on the ground twice, threw an interception in the first half and they scored 13 points, but we battled for 48 minutes. We got some pressure on Ewing and contained them in the second half.”
Ewing, who went 10-of-15 for 103 yards, tossed touchdown passes of 37 and 11 yards in the first quarter.
Hull, who caught three passes for 39 yards, hauled in the 37-yard TD pass to put the Devils up 6-0.