FOOTBALL: High-octane: Must-win win for Dragons over Franklin
By BEN OVIATT
Warren’s place in the District 10 Class AAA playoffs was never in question.
Okay, maybe for a minute.
Holding a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Dragons held off a pair of deep Franklin drives, and Luke Wortman iced the game with a 58-yard touchdown run as Warren defeated the visiting Knights 41-27 on Senior Night at War Memorial Field.
With the win, Warren is all but assured the sixth seed in the playoffs as the third best D-10 team in Region 5.
“It was great to get this victory for our magnificent seven seniors,” said Dragons’ coach Greg Latimer. “Their athleticism, desire, and ability to rally the team is what led us to our 6-3 record. Those seniors (Josh Atkins, Aaron Borger, Alex Danielson, Cody Gunn, Garrett Smead, Geoff Stewart, and Luke Wortman) are what anchored our defense. It wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it on Senior Night.”
Things got off to a rocky start for the Dragons, as D.J. Fehlman’s first pass of the evening was picked off by Franklin’s Kahlil West.
West returned the interception to Warren’s 12 yard line, and on the third play of the drive quarterback Kyle Ritchey found Isaiah Rutherford for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give the Knights an early lead.
The Dragons came storming back, as Fehlman broke off a 50-yard run down to the Franklin five, and broke through the line two plays later, knotting the game at 7-7.
The Knights broke into their bag of tricks, scoring just 36 seconds later when Ritchey fired a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage to Ryan Madden, who hit West deep downfield for a 50-yard score.
Again, Warren answered.
The Dragons took to the air, scoring on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Fehlman to Ryan Shattuck near the end of the first quarter, and started the second quarter in the same fashion as Fehlman found Evan Suppa from 30 yards out.
It appeared as if Franklin would get the last points heading into the half when a scrambling Ritchey hit West with a 43-yard toss into the end zone, but Warren marched downfield, and capped a scoring drive with a 19-yard pass from Fehlman to Tanner Stanz with just 19 seconds remaining before the break.
It was sophomore Ryan Gorgacz’s turn to get in on the action with the first touchdown of his varsity career – a 62-yard dash from scrimmage -as the Dragons took a two score lead.
Franklin pulled within seven on a Ryan Uber run, and threatened to tie the game deep in Warren territory late in the third quarter. After an interception by Stanz was called back for defensive pass interference, the Knights took a shot at the end zone, only to be intercepted again, this time by Wortman.
The Knights would enter the red zone one more time in the fourth, but back-to-back penalties forced the visitors to punt. Wortman’s score with 3:48 left in the game sealed the final win of his and his fellow seniors careers at War Memorial Field.
Wortman finished the night with 136 rushing yards on 14 carries, Gorgacz had 80 yards on seven carries, Shattuck had four catches for 73 yards, and Fehlman was 8-of-14 with 152 yards and three touchdowns through the air. As a unit, the Warren defense held the Knights to negative seven yards on the ground.
Ritchey was 24-of-43 for 300 yards and two scores, and West had 15 catches and 277 receiving yards, both of which were school records.
The Dragons (6-3, 3-3) will finish the regular season on the road at Titusville for a non-region game next week.
“As far as playoffs go, we’re still taking things one week at a time,” said Latimer. “The focus now is on heading down Route 27 and taking care of Titusville.”
F-Isaiah Rutherford 10 yard pass from Kyle Ritchey, 10:18 (Ty Mooney kick)
W-D.J. Fehlman 5 yard run, 8:18 (Ryan Shattuck kick)
F-Kahlil West 50 yard pass from Ryan Madden, 7:59 (Mooney kick)
W-Shattuck 48 yard pass from Fehlman, 3:50 (Shattuck kick)
W-Evan Suppa 30 yard pass from Fehlman, 8:35 (Shattuck kick)
F-West 43 yard pass from Ritchey, 1:11 (Mooney kick)
W-Tanner Stanz 19 yard pass from Fehlman, 0:19 (Shattuck kick)
W-Ryan Gorgacz 62 run, 9:48 (kick failed)
F-Kyle Uber 5 yard run, 1:27 (kick failed)
W-Luke Wortman 58 yard run, 3:48 (Shattuck kick)
RUSHING-F – Uber 10-18, 1TD, Ritchey 11-(-17), Rutherford 1-(-8); W – Gorgacz 7-80, 1TD, Fehlman 19-25, 1TD, Wortman 14-136, 1TD, Shattuck 1-7, Kyle Kulka 1-0, Cody Gunn 2-4.
PASSING-F – Ritchey 24-43-300, 2TD, INT, Madden 1-1-55, 1TD, INT, Porter Rembold 1-1-21; W – Fehlman 8-14-152, 3TD, 2INT.
RECEIVING-F – Rutherford 3-27, 1TD, West 15-277, 2TD, Rembold 3-22, Madden 2-7, Cleo McKinney 3-43; W – Shattuck 4-73, 1TD, Suppa 1-30, 1TD, Kulka 1-7, Stanz 1-23, 1TD, Wortman 1-19.