WAUSEON -- A fourth-down gamble and a stellar performance by quarterback Evan Wyse propelled Archbold past Wauseon 41-18 on Friday, keeping alive playoff hopes for the Blue Streaks.
Trailing 12-10 with 44 seconds to go in the first half, Archbold faced a fourth-and-nine at its own 28. That's when head coach Bryan Miller decided to go with a fake punt and Wyse converted with a 36-yard run. Three plays later Lincoln Parsley connected on a 20-yard field goal for a 13-12 lead and the Streaks never trailed.
"It was a stupid call," Miller said of the gamble. "I wanted to run it and if it looked bad call a timeout. The coaches were all calling for a timeout but I didn't. They had him stopped, it was just a great play by Evan."
One of many by the sophomore signal-caller, who finished with 486 yards of total offense, 247 on the ground and 239 through the air.
"I can't do anything without blocking," Wyse said modestly. "The offensive line played great and gave me blocks when I needed them. I just followed my pulling guards (Zach Zimmerman and Tyler Rufenacht)."
Wyse hit T.J. Gerken with a 48-yard touchdown strike, the second of the game, upping the Archbold advantage to 20-12 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Wauseon countered with a Ty Suntken 44-yard touchdown pass to Adam Moose to trim the deficit to 20-18 three minutes later. But it was all Archbold the rest of the way with Wyse leading the charge.
Downfield blocks by Gabe Rodriguez and Tanner Wyse keyed a 25-yard touchdown run by the Archbold quarterback for a 27-18 advantage and the sophomore added an 11-yard score in the fourth quarter before Danny Young closed out the scoring with a 5-yard TD jaunt.
"The threat when you face a spread team is you can do everything right in the secondary but he can break your back scrambling around," Wauseon coach Travis Cooper said of Wyse. "Stopping a spread team with a mobile quarterback is a tough task for any team."
But early on the Indians were up to the task.
Twice Wauseon thwarted Archbold drives, holding the Blue Streaks to a field goal and then stopping the visitors on downs at the 6-yard line.
Six plays later Dustin Makula raced 47 yards to paydirt giving Wauseon a 6-3 advantage.
After Wyse connected with Gerken on a 43-yard TD, the Indians regained the lead at 12-10 on a 37-yard Troy Lind run straight up the middle behind center Ridge Schweinhagen.
"The first half was the best half of football we've played this season," Cooper said. "We controlled the line of scrimmage and we were doing what we wanted to. Our defense held them to a field goal and made them turn it over on downs. We made plays and I was proud of our effort.
"But the second half has been our bugaboo all year. We've got to get off the field on third down. Archbold's offense has the capability to come back and haunt you."
Turning the ball over four times (interceptions by Gerken and Jay Miller and fumble recoveries by Gerken and Hayden Stamm) also hurt the Indians, which fell to 5-4 on the year and 4-3 in the NWOAL with a road game at Patrick Henry still remaining.
"Turnovers killed us," Cooper said. "We've got a good sophomore quarterback (Suntken) that's still growing. He's his own worst critic. Sometimes he kills us but he's trying to do what we're telling him to do."
After running for just 25 yards in a loss to Patrick Henry a week earlier, the Blue Streaks rushed for 277 yards against Wauseon to go along with 239 yards passing.
"That's what we have to do to win football games," Miller said of the balanced offense. "Even though we're a spread team we have to run the football."
Now 7-2 on the season and 5-2 in the NWOAL, the Blue Streaks host unbeaten Liberty Center in the regular-season finale. A win would most likely give Archbold a berth in the Region 18 playoffs while LC, which already has clinched a postseason berth, needs a victory to wrap up an outright league championship.
First Downs 21 12
Rushing Yards 40-277 38-212
Passing Yards 239 89
Total Yards 516 301
Passing 14-20-0 4-10-2
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties 3-25 4-26
Archbold 3 10 14 14 - 41
Wauseon 0 12 6 0 - 18
A - Parsley 26-field goal.
W - Makula 47-run (kick failed).
A - Gerken 43-pass from Wyse (Parsley kick).
W - Lind 37-run (run failed).
A - Parsley 20-field goal.
A - Gerken 48-pass from Wyse (Parsley kick).
W - Moose 44-pass from Suntken (run failed).
A - Wyse 25-run (Parsley kick).
A - Wyse 11-run (Parsley kick).
A - Young 5-run (Parsley kick).
RUSHING: Archbold - Wyse 30-247; Young 10-30. Wauseon - Makula 20-103; Lind 5-76; Suntken 13-33; PASSING: Archbold - Wyse 14-20-0-239. Wauseon - Suntken 4-10-2-89.. RECEIVING: Archbold - Gerken 6-119; Young 4-53; Schilt 3-51; Tuckerman 1-16. Wauseon - Moose 1-44; Stickley 1-24; Blue 1-16; Stewart 1-5.