After a rocky start to the season. Woodridge football seems to be back in familiar territory: Winning games in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
The Bulldogs made it three wins in row Friday, as it ran out to a 42-21 win over Field at Lahoski Field. Woodridge improved to 3-4, 3-1 in the Metro Division with the win.
"I’m really proud of our offense and defense," said Woodridge coach Jeff Decker. "We had some good play on special teams too."
Decker noted a key to the Bulldogs’ revival has been the growth of junior quarterback Andrew Mekeal.
"Andrew Mekeal has really taken over the quarterback position," Decker said "He’s always been our quarterback, but he had a little rocky start to season. A lot of that was playing against some tough competition, but he had to get his feet wet and it takes some time to get used to being a Friday night varsity quarterback.
"Over the last three weeks, he distributed the ball all over the place," he added. "In the game against Field, I think he got the ball to five or six different receivers, four or five of which had four or more passes."
In fact, going 16-of-21 for 255 yards and two touchdowns, hitting six different receivers. Senior DJ Snyder was his favorite target, catching six ball for 50 yards.
"We’re really proud of Andrew," Decker said. "He’s growing in confidence and he’s throwing a really nice ball. It’s been good to see.
Good as he was with his arm, Mekeal opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
Woodridge pushed the lead to 28-0 at the half. The Bulldogs got a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Denver Cody, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mekeal to Cody and a 38-yard touchdown pass from Mekeal to Nasir Stephens.
Cody ran 14 times for 58 yards and a touchdown to lead the Bulldogs.
After the Falcons got on the board early in the third quarter, Woodridge answered with a 38-yard touchdown run from Bradley Goodyear.
"We were able to run the ball when we needed to," Decker said. "Bradley Goodyear stepped up with some nice runs."
On the defensive side of the ball, Decker said the Bulldogs needed some time to adjust to Field’s triple option attack.
"Seeing a triple option attack when you haven’t seen in a while, it takes some time to adjust, especially with as good a fullback as they had," Decker said. "We forced them into some mistakes. They were never were able to get their play-action pass game against us."
Field fullback Evan Reinhart ran for 160 yards and one touchdown on the Bulldogs, but Field did not find the end zone until the second half, when Field quarterback Dallas McAmis scored on a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs’ biggest play of the night came on defense as the Falcons were driving late in the third quarter.
"Field was starting to get some momentum with their offense," Decker said. "Jarrett Martin, one of our defensive ends, hit their quarterback when he was going to pitch it and caused a fumble. Elijah Arnett scooped up the fumble and took it back. It was huge play for us."
Arnett returned the fumble 85 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-7 with 1:46 left in the third quarter, putting the contest out of reach.
"They scored on us once early in the second half and then got a couple of late touchdowns," Decker said. "I wasn’t too happy about that. We had some breakdowns, although at that point we had some other guys in the game."
Field brought the game closer with a 58-yard pass touchdown from McAmis to Chris Curbertson — McAmis’ only completed pass of the night — and a 47-yard touchdown runs from Reinhart in the fourth quarter, but the issue was never in doubt.
Woodridge was set to play its final road game of the season when it travels to Coventry Friday. The Bulldogs return home to face Norton Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC