Lyons' huge night leads Wooster football past Nordonia

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia's Jaydon Wimbush makes a tackle during a game against Stow earlier this season. Wimbush had an interception in the Knights' 34-27 loss at Wooster Oct. 30.

WOOSTER — The 2020 football season has produced some oddities — including Nordonia and Wooster taking on each other in week 10.

Some things in football never change, though. Like the fact the team that controls the line of scrimmage usually wins the game.

Wooster running back Joey Lyons had a feeling ahead of the game.

"We thought if we were going to win, we were going to have to run the ball against them," Lyons said. "I knew if we were going to run the ball, I would be the one running the ball."

Lyons ended up having a night for the ages: 48 carries for 292 yards and five touchdowns.

Wooster needed every one of those yards and touchdowns — and a recovery of a last-minute onside kick — to seal a 34-27 win over Nordonia Oct. 30 at Follis Field.

Wooster improved to 8-1 on the season, while Nordonia dropped to 5-5.

Wooster coach Doug Haas joked that Lyons' mother might be after him for running her son into the ground, but he was overjoyed with Lyons' effort.

"Joey is one of those guys who has brought into the team completely," Haas said. "He goes straight ahead and he rarely gets hit for negative yards. I could be happier or more proud of him.

"It's a line of scrimmage game. It always will be," Haas added, as the Generals went away from their usual spread offense. "I'm super proud of what our offensive line did. We've got some great skill [players] who could demand the ball, but they are on in for the team."

As for Nordonia coach Jeff Fox, he could only tip his hat to the Generals.

"That's a great running back and great team," Fox said. "Coach Haas does a great job with them. To beat a team like that, you to be a mistake-free game. We had a couple of plays that went against us and some penalties that slowed drives down."

Nordonia was hit with 13 penalties for 97 yards.

However, while Knights' inability to stop the run cost them, Nordonia's defense also kept them in the game by snagging four turnovers from the Generals.

Wooster set the tone for the game on its first two drives.

The Generals opened with a 14-play, 80-yard drive with culminated in a three-yard touchdown run from Lyons with 7:33 left in the first quarter.

Nordonia blocked the extra point. Wooster was unsuccessful on its three extra-point kicks on the night.

After Nordonia's first drive ended with missed field goal, Wooster marched 80 yards in 15 plays with Lyons running in a 6-yard touchdown with 11:13 left in the second quarter.

Generals quarterback Owen Roach then hit Micha McKee with a two-point conversion pass to make it 14-0. Roach went 18-of-36 for 132 yards and two interceptions.

Nordonia looked in trouble after its next drive ended when a fake punt resulted in an incomplete pass. However, the Knight got a spark when Michael Westbrooks recovered a fumbled pitch and returned it to the Wooster 47.

After Knights quarterback Billy Levak hit a 37-yard bomb to Joel Jones, Nordonia cut the lead to 14-7 when Shane Robinson ran in a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 7:57 left in the second quarter.

While Robinson's rushing numbers weren't as huge as Lyons (11 carries for 53 yards), he did match Lyons with three rushing touchdowns in the first half.

Levak went 26-of-44 for 324 yards with one interception.

Wooster answered with another long drive, capped by Lyons running in 1-yard touchdown run to make it 20-7 with 4:55 left in the half.

Nordonia replied with more aerial attacks, as Levak hit Cooper Rush with three passes on the next drive. Rusk led Nordonia with eight catches for 65 yards.

The drive ended with Robinson running a 6-yard option run for a touchdown with 2:04 left.

Nordonia then took advantage of another fumble, as Kieran Bell recovered a ball at the Knight 48.

A 39-yard bomb from Levak to Matt Hayes then set up Robinson's third touchdown of the half with a 1-yard run with 14 seconds left in the half. Andrew Lastovka's extra point gave Nordonia an improbably 21-20 lead at the half.

"We certainly have to find a way to limit those turnovers," Haas said.

Wooster's offense continued to self-destruct in the third quarter, as Roach was picked off by Jaydon Wimbush at the goal line to end a Generals' threat.

That drive led to more Nordonia points, though Fox was disappointed the Knights had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Lastovka.

"We've got to be able to find a way to finish drives," said Fox.

Nordonia's defense struck again when Bryan Russ picked off Roach with 50 seconds left in the third.

Three plays later, however, Nordonia's lone turnover proved to be the turning point of the game.

Levak was picked off by Michael Howman-Williams, who returned the ball to the Nordonia 30.

Wooster took advantage of the short field, as Lyons ran in 2-yard touchdown with 10:03 left in the game. Roach then hit McKee with his second two-point conversion pass of the night.

After Nordonia was forced to punt, the Generals' next drive featured nine runs from Lyons, including a 30-yard burst up the middle, which was his longest run of the night.

Lyons capped the drive with 2-yard touchdown run with 1:51 left to make it 34-24.

"The offensive line did a great job blocking all night," Lyons said. "They were cut blocking and they were still knocking them over. It makes it easy when they block like that."

Nordonia did not give up. The Knights gave themselves a chance when Lastovka hit a 45 yard field goal with 40 seconds left to make it a one-score game.

However, Wooster recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Although the season technically moves into week 11 next, both teams plan to play. Nordonia is scheduled to travel to Massillon Jackson Nov. 6, while Wooster plans to face arch rival Ashland.