Woodridge gets the better of Struthers in defensive battle
Wildcats offense sputters on the road
By JACOB RUFFO
Struthers’ defense tried their best to keep the Wildcats’ season alive against Woodridge in the first round of the playoffs. They had two sacks, two blocked kicks, forced and recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass, but it was not enough as the Woodridge Bulldogs prevailed 18-6.
“[Woodridge] have ended every other game they played in the first half this year,” Struthers coach Curt Kuntz said. “For us to keep them this low is unbelievable for how balanced they are.”
Offensively, the two teams took two completely different approaches. Struthers ran the ball 44 times for 206 yards, however they only completed seven passes for 40 yards. Struthers’ quarterback AJ Musolino ran 22 times for 167 yards and Struthers’ lone touchdown.
Woodridge threw the ball 24 times, completing 16 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. They ran 29 times for 94 yards. Woodridge receiver Jacob Margroff led all receivers with eight catches for 118 yards and the clinching 50 yard touchdown with five minutes left. Sharif Howard had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“Especially against a big team like them we like to run no-huddle. Try and throw a lot of quick passes and try and get them nice and tired,” Woodridge quarterback Mason Lydic said. “In the first half we ran our game plan exactly how we drew it up. Coming out of the half they started to slow it down a little bit so we had to make some adjustments.”
The first half — specifically the second quarter — was dominated by Woodridge. Struthers had zero first downs to Woodridge’s seven. The quarter started right at the beginning of a 97-yard drive for the Bulldogs, which ended with a 19-yard field goal from Howard. Later on, a snap went over Musolino’s head and into the end zone for a safety.
“We just made some mistakes. We didn’t convert when we had to,” Kuntz said. “They’re a heck of a team that pressures you in all three phases of the game.”
Struthers was 1-4 on fourth downs in the game. All three failed attempts were in Woodridge territory, including once at the one-yard line.
The first half for both teams was a little more physical than the referees would like, as both teams received multiple personal foul penalties. During one drive for Struthers in the first quarter, Woodridge defenders were penalized for late hits on consecutive plays.
“We’re a physical team. They’re a physical team,” Kuntz said. “It’s a playoff game, that’s part of it.”
In total, Struthers was penalized three times for 35 yards with two being personal fouls. Woodridge was penalized seven times for 70 yards, including three personal fouls.
With around five minutes left in the game, Woodridge had a long 3rd down conversion called back due to an illegal man downfield. On the following 3rd and 15 play, Lydic found Howard streaking up the right sideline. Howard would jog into the end zone to complete the 50-yard touchdown.
Musolino, a senior and Kent State commit, played in his final game as a Struthers Wildcat.
“I think he played great tonight,” said Kuntz, “I couldn’t ask any more from him tonight. I couldn’t ask any more from his career here. These last four years no one played harder, no one worked harder than him.
“We won our first league championship in 20 years. That’s something you can never take away from us,” Kuntz added. “We gave a great effort against one of the best, if not the best, team in our region. That’s all I could ever ask for.”