Heading into its game at Norton, Woodridge football coach Jeff Decker said the Panthers’ 1-3 record was deceiving because it had spent much of the early season without star running back Tyler Scott.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Scott was back at full strength Sept. 27 — and he proved to be the dominant force in the game.
Scott torched the Bulldogs’ defense for 300 yards rushing and five touchdowns, leading Norton to a 32-21 win over Woodridge.
The Bulldogs dropped to 2-3, 1-1 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
"It was a very frustrating game," Decker said. "Obviously, it was us not coming out with a victory when we felt like we could have."
Decker said the Bulldogs problem in the loss was the same issue that’s plagued them in all of their losses: Inconsistency.
"We have moments of greatness 75 percent of the time when all 11 players on the field come together and do what’s right," Decker said. "All of sudden, in two big plays, we mess up and we’re looking at third and 12 or something. Multiple times, we’ve been inside the red zone or at least inside the 30. Then all of a sudden, we collapse and we don’t put points on the board. That happened four or five times against Norton.
"It’s the same thing on defense. About 75 percent of the time, we’re making great plays on Tyler Scott and stopping their counter offense," Decker said. "Then all of sudden, three people miss tackles on the same play. Tyler Scott is going to make you hurt from that. He had a huge night against us."
Norton’s time consuming offense opened with a long drive, aided by a fourth down conversion. Scott found the end zone for the first time with 4-yard run.
After Woodridge punted on its first drive, Scott broke loose for an 81-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left in the first quarter, make it 14-0 after one quarter.
Woodridge would find its offense in the second quarter, as the Bulldogs got on the board with a five-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Mekeal to Brandon Albright.
Mekeal went 16-of-26 for 173 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Albright was Mekeal’s favorite target with six catches for 97 yards and touchdown.
However, Scott would answer with another long touchdown run, this time from 49 yard out to make it 20-7, as Woodridge blocked the extra point.
Woodridge got its own running game going, as Dohntay Williams ran in a seven-yard touchdown with 1:01 left in the half, cuting the deficit to 20-14 at halftime.
Williams finished with 106 yards rushing on 22 carries with touchdown.
"Brandon Albright had a great game. Dohntay Williams had a great game," Decker said. "Our offensive line blocked well for the most part, but we had key mistakes at the wrong time."
Wooriddge kept Norton bottled up in the third quarter, but Mekeal was intercepted in the end zone to start the fourth quarter.
In the second half, we had him pretty, we bottled up," Decker said. "It was a matter of two or three plays. We made a couple big mistakes on one play and Scott ran in a -yard touchdown."
That touchdown with 4:16 left in the game made it 27-14, but Woodirdge was able to respond a minute later, as Mekeal threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Williams, cuttin the deficit to 27-21.
However, Woodridge committed a key personal foul penalty on the next drive, which set Scott up for his fifth touchdown of the night — a 22-yard jaunt with 2:31 left which served as the knockout blow..
"It was kind of an up-and-down game. In the end, Tyler Scott was too much firepower for us," Decker said. .
After four straight road games, Woodridge was set to return home to face Coventry Friday at Lahoski Field.
That’s always been a good game for us," Decker said. "It’s become a bit of a rivalry. Last year, we were fortunate to win it in overtime and we’re looking for another good game."
Woodridge will travel to Field Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO