Many of Woodridge football coach Jeff Decker’s formative years were spent at Chagrin Falls. Decker was the defensive coordinator at Chagrin during some the program’s best years under coach Mark Immarino.
Decker and Woodridge made a couple of trips to Chagrin last weekend, only to see Immarino reach a career milestone at the Bulldogs’ expense.
In a contest that spanned two days due to lightning, Woodridge’s offense had a rough game, as the Bulldogs stumbled to a 9-7 loss when the game concluded Sept. 14. With the win, Immarino became Chagrin’s all-time winningest head coach.
Woodridge dropped to 1-2 on the season.
Decker said the lightning and lack of consistency on offense hurt the Bulldogs.
"It kind of made for an interesting weekend," Decker said of the lightning delay. "We just could not get the ball rolling in a positive fashion.
"We moved the ball OK at times, then we would stumble. We’d turn the ball over or have a big mistake to stop the drive. On Friday night, we didn’t have any points and on Saturday we only had one long drive for a touchdown. We were in the red zone four or five times and only had the one touchdown"
Decker noted one sequence was emblematic of the Bulldogs’ struggles. Early in the second quarter, Woodridge tackled Chagrin’s punter at the 2-yard line. Woodridge’s offense went backwards after the great field position and the Bulldogs ended up missing a 30-yard field goal with 7:24 left in the first half.
"That was the difference in the game," Decker said. "We’ve got to be able to punch it in when we’ve got the ball at the two."
Decker said the Bulldogs had a a solid game on the defensive side of the ball.
"We gave up two kind of decent sized runs. Other than that we pretty much shut them down. We created five turnovers in the game, so the defense really did their job."
One of those long runs accounted for Chagrin’s lone touchdown on the night. With 2:51 to go in the first half, Tigers running back Xavier Perez broke loose for a 42-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good, but Chagrin had a 6-0 lead.
Perez finished with five rushes for 64 yards.
Just before the half, another long run set up Chagrin for a 31-yard field goal attempt. Kicker Lucas Gizutis nailed it, sending the Tigers to halftime with a 9-0 lead.
Halftime lasted for about 18 hours, as the game was suspended due to the storm and was resumed at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Woodridge harried Chagrin Falls quarterback Dawson Pierce all game. Pierce went 5-of-14 for 31 yards with three interceptions. He also ran 17 times for 66 yards with one fumble
However, Woodridge quarterback Andrew Mekeal had a rough game for Woodridge, as he went 17-of-37 for 151 yards passing and three interceptions.
Following an interception by Brandon Albright, the Bulldogs finally got on the board. After Mekeal hit James Lehrer with a 13-yard pass down to the 3-yard line, Ben Lahoski plunged into end zone from three-yards out. Carson Lehrer’s extra point cut the lead to
Lahokski had 56 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Woodridge got one last chance after intercepting Pierce on the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line with less than two minutes to go. However, Woodridge final drive never passed midfield.
"We were missing some weapons due to injuries," Decker said. "We’re hoping to get those guys back this week. Consistency is the name of the game for. As long as we can do that, we should be able to score some point and, hopefully, the defense keeps playing well."
"We’ve had a lot of young guys playing. We had six sophomores playing and actually two freshmen. We’re going to be relying on these young guys, but its going to be good experience for them for the next couple of years."
Woodridge was set top open Portage Trail Conference Metro Division play next Friday at Akron Springfield.
"We’re still on the road for the next three weeks," Decker said. "I like playing at Springfield, they provide a good atmosphere there."
The Bulldogs will visit Norton Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO