Woodridge football coach Jeff Decker knew his team’s opener at Padua Franciscan would be a huge test for his team.
It was a test the Bulldogs were not able to pass in any category.
Woodridge dropped a 47-14 loss to the Bruins in Parma. Padua rushed out to a 40-0 lead at halftime and coasted home.
Decker said pretty much everything went wrong for the Bulldogs.
"Things obviously didn’t go well. There’s not much to be positive about, especially in that first half, "Decker said. "Seems like defensively we didn’t play poorly on first down and second down. On third down, it didn’t matter what the down and distance was. We just couldn’t get off the field."
Padua went 5-of-6 on third down conversions.
Decker said the Bulldogs’ defensive strategy was to try to make Padua quarterback Jaxon French take the heat.
"Their quarterback, who was a freshman, we wanted to make him beat us," Decker said. "He did just that. He threw some completed passes that were there, no matter how close we covered."
French ended up going 15-of-20 for 275 yards and four touchdowns, all four of which came in the first half. He tossed two touchdowns to DeMarko Allen.
By contrast, Woodridge junior quarterback Andrew Mekeal, in his first start, went 3-of-14 for 31 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned 12 yards for a touchdown by Padua’s Colt Jennings late in the first half.
"Our offense just kind of sputtered," Decker said. "We couldn’t get into any kind of groove. I think some of our inexperienced guys let the moment get to them a little bit."
Denver Cody led the Bulldogs’ rushers with 34 yards on 12 carries. Mekeal ran five times for minus-31 yards as he was sacked three times by Padua.
Chrishawn Long led Padua’s running game with 65 yards on 10 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Mekeal got Woodridge on the board with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Arnett with 3:25 left in the third quarter. He also scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 3:48 left to go in the game.
Woodridge lost the turnover battle 2-1 and didn’t help its cause by committing nine penalties for 138 yards.
Decker acknowledged there was little his team could do but tip its cap to Padua and move on.
"That’s a very good team that we played," Decker said. "They’ve got some extremely talented kids, the likes of not a lot of teams around the area have. It was a definitely a week one tough matchup for us. We didn’t handle it well, so we’re moving on."
Woodridge will play its home opener next Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Nordonia. The Bulldogs will then hit the road again Sept. 8 when they travel to face Akron Buchtel. This Saturday contest will kick off at 1 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC