By Andrew Wyder
Sun Group publishing
It was a matchup of the old versus the new last Friday night at Western Brown’s Kibler Stadium.
Goshen’s tried but true rushing attack matched up against Western Brown’s spread passing attack in a key Southern Buckeye Conference-American Division football game.
While the Warriors old school offense lived up to its end of the bargain, their defense didn’t have quite that much success.
The Broncos spread out and wore down the Warriors defense as they sliced their way through the Goshen defense en route to a 55-33 win. It was their sixth straight win to open the season.
“They’re very good with that passing attack,” Goshen coach Mark Slagle said. “We worked hard at it all week. We knew it was coming. We just didn’t have the physical abilities to make the plays out there with the kind of four and five receiver sets that they have.”
Though the Warriors had taken an early 6-0 lead with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that took up much of the first quarter and was capped off on a 26-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brandon Steele, the Broncos showed the resiliency that had been a trademark of their 5-0 start to the season.
By the time the game reached halftime, the Broncos had fought back to take a 20-19 lead thanks to a Devyn Wood touchdown pass to Jarred Haggerty late in the first half.
Things started off just as well for the home team in the third quarter.
Wood capped off a quick five-play drive by scrambling in the pocket to create a little extra time before finding Eean Hornung for a 33-yard scoring strike on a fourth down and 10 play to extend the Broncos lead to 27-19.
The junior quarterback was on top of his game again, despite two early interceptions.
He finished the game 21-for-33 for 386 yards and four touchdowns.
“He did a great job in the third quarter of managing our offense and being our point guard and distributing the ball to the guys we needed to,” Western Brown coach Evan Dreyer said of his quarterback. “It was special to see him make sure we were able to win the game at the end.”
Then, in a game dominated by offense, the Broncos defense got a key stop.
On the Warriors first possession of the second half the Broncos forced a three-and-out and a punt.
Again, the Broncos offense took advantage. This time, though, they used all their weapons.
Not only did Wood complete passes to two different receivers — he also had two other passes fall off receiver’s hands for what would have been long touchdown catches on the drive — but he, Hornung and Gunnar Woodyard also each made big plays in the running game.
The 13-play, 59-yard drive was capped off by the first of his two one-yard touchdown runs. It gave the Broncos a 34-19 lead.
“It was just special to see our guys work together and showcase their talents,” Dreyer said.
The Warriors didn’t fold down by two scores, they kept pounding away.
And they kept giving the ball to Marcus Casey.
The star senior running back cut into the Broncos lead with a 13-yard touchdown run. His third touchdown on the night cut the Broncos lead to 34-26 with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Just as it seemed that the Warriors had stymied the Broncos, though, the hosts made another big play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bronco return man Jake Lawson picked up a bouncing ball near the 10-yard line and took off. About 10 yards up field he saw a crease outside, cut to the left sideline and was gone for a 90-yard touchdown to give the Broncos their two-score cushion back, 41-26.
“That hurt,” Slagle said. “We were within striking distance and they were starting to wear down with our running attack and that was a back breaker, no question.”
The return may have knocked the Warriors down but they got back up.
They drove right back down the field as they pounded the Broncos defense on the ground — all 366 yards the Warriors racked up were on the ground — before Casey, who ran for 222 yards, scored his fourth and final touchdown from six yards out to get the Warriors back within eight, 41-33.
In the end, however, it didn’t matter how well the Warriors offense played. They couldn’t stop the Broncos, who pulled away in the final nine minutes with two more touchdowns.
“I’m proud of them. They executed well and we’ve got weapons. Marcus is a special running back,” Slagle said of his offense. “Western Brown had more weapons than us and got the job done.”
The loss was the Warriors second straight conference loss after four straight wins to start the season.
“It stings,” Slagle said. “You lost two in the division. It’s not likely someone is going to stumble twice. We’ve just got to try to be the best we can be and see if we can win the next four and have an 8-2 year and go at it that way.”