Woodridge football pulls out win over Norton in overtime

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Woodridge kick Trey Yanock kicks the ball during the Bulldogs' 23-20 overtime win over Norton Sept. 25. Yanock hit a 28-yard field goal in overtime.

For a young team like Woodridge, learning how to win close game is an essential skill.

The Bulldogs suffered through a pair of close losses at the outset of the season, but Norton's visit Sept. 25 to Lahoski Field put Woodridge in another tight one.

This time, the Bulldogs pulled it out in dramatic fashion.

A 28-yard field goal from junior Trey Yannock in the first session of overtime proved to be enough for the Bulldogs to score a 23-20 win.

Woodridge improved to 2-3, both overall and in the Metro Athletic Conference.

Following its first win of the season the previous week, Woodridge coach Jeff Decker noted the importance of keeping up momentum.

"At the beginning of the week, we told our guys, in order to get a win streak going, you've got to get that second one," Decker said. "It seems obvious, but you've got to learn that. Those first two weeks of the season, they were close loses and we told them a few less mistakes and we win.

Woodridge wide receiver Kamari Mitchell celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 23-20 home overtime win over Norton Sept. 25. Mitchell caught two touchdowns in the win.

"We make a few less mistakes this week," he added. "With that said, we had a significant number of unforced errors against Norton. Thing we need to clean up if we want to keep winning. You turn the ball over that many times, you're lucky that you won the game."

Woodridge lost the turnover battle 3-1 to the Panthers and also committed eight penalties for 79 yards.

"We've got to stop those kind of errors," Decker said.

Decker paid tribute to his young defense, noting the Bulldogs made the plays they needed to in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"Our defense is steadily improving," Decker said. "We've installed a new defense this year, but it takes a little while to figure out where people need to go. Now we feel like we've got the kids in the right positions

"We still made some defensive errors, but when it came down to crunch time, we were in the places we needed to be." 

Woodridge stopped Norton on a fourth-and-5 play in overtime to claim the win.

"Maybe could have kicked field goal, but they chose not to," Decker said. "They had a pass play where they tried to hit the flat. We had two kids in the right place. Taysear Williams, who's a freshman, and Christian Everly, who moved to three different positions, stopped them so they couldn't get anymore yards."

Decker also credited Yannock, as the former soccer player nailed the clutch kick.

"He came out this season looking to play football for the first time," Decker said. "I think the first football he kicked in two-a-days was his first football. Ever since, he's gotten a little bit better."

It was an up-and-down night for Bulldogs quarterback Ben Kiser, who went 9-of-19 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He had an inconsistent night," Decker said. "He had some nice passes, but there were also some passes he could have made late to keep the game from going to overtime. He needs to trust his teammates and pull the trigger."

Both of Kiser's touchdown came to his favorite target, as junior Kamari Mitchell snagged five catches for 138 yards.

He snagged a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 48-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Decker said the Mitchell is a "diamond in the rough," given that the transfer student from Cuyahoga Falls never played high school football before this year.

"He's a fantastic receiver," Decker said. "He just has a natural knack for leaping up and grabbing the ball.

"On his first long touchdown, the ball was kind of underthrown," Decker added. "He leapt up, pulled his arms over the defenders shoulder, got the ball, bobbled it for about 10 yards and then got tackled in the end zone. It was just an amazing play."

Woodridge finished with a 158 rushing yards on the night, though no rusher had more than 40 yards for the Bulldogs.

Haniel Fanka scored on a four-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter for the Bulldogs.

Woodridge was set to take on Coventry on the road Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.

"I've been really impressed with them," Decker said of Coventry. "I know they got a late start because of the summer. I think it will be a good, pretty evenly matched game.