A long weather delay kept the teams off the field for nearly 90 minutes after the scheduled start, but when West Clermont and Lebanon finally kicked off on Friday, September 6, defense dominated the game.
The teams combined for just 10 points and 344 yards of total offense, yet also just one turnover. Lebanon struck late for a touchdown with one minute left in the game to take the 7-3 win.
“We mentally broke down,” Wolves head coach Nick Ayers said. “It starts at the top with me. I didn’t prepare our guys good enough, and they overcame the adverse situations better than we did. We’re going to learn from it, I’m going to learn from it and we’re going to get better.”
Neither team could get things going on offense in the first half, for different reasons. West Clermont had trouble with the run game, and couldn’t get anything going. The team finished the game with 38 attempts for 114 yards.
Lebanon, meanwhile, had serious trouble catching a pass. The Warriors had several open receivers throughout the contest, only to come away with nothing after a dropped pass.
West Clermont drove the ball to the Lebanon 32 in the first quarter, only to fail on a fourth down try. Lebanon tried a fake punt on the ensuing drive, and West Clermont stuffed it to regain possession.
The teams traded punts throughout the second quarter, with Lebanon having the best chance to score of either team in the first half, but the runner slipped on the wet turf and fell down. The game was scoreless at halftime.
The second half started out with a bang for West Clermont. Devon Boykin returned the kickoff 61 yards to the Lebanon 19 yard-line, but West Clermont turned the ball over on downs.
The Wolves nearly made a big play on defense on the next drive. Lebanon’s quarterback, Kyle Short, reached down to field a low snap, and the play was whistled dead by the referees, who claimed his knee was down. West Clermont’s defense had busted through the line on the play, and forced an interception. Lebanon ended up punting the ball away.
Another call failed to go the Wolves’ way a few plays later. On fourth and 11 from the Lebanon 25, West Clermont caught a pass for a first down. The receiver lost the ball, and the referees called the pass incomplete. It looked like the runner may have had control of the ball and lost it when he reached for the goal line, but the incomplete pass ended the Wolves’ drive.
Penalties and punts marred drives for both teams throughout the third quarter, until West Clermont’s special teams made a play again. This time, the Wolves blocked a punt and took over at the Lebanon 18. Cameron Null converted on a 30-yard field goal to put the Wolves up 3-0 with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.
West Clermont recovered a fumble on the Lebanon 5 yard line midway through the fourth period, but the team again could not find the end zone, and the field goal try was no good.
Lebanon scored their lone touchdown of the game a few minutes later on a 12-yard run by Short. West Clermont drove to the Lebanon 28 yard-line, where Ryan Cann caught a pass and was tackled on his way out of bounds. The clock kept rolling, and time ran out.
Hunter Eads finished with 70 passing yards for the Wolves. Jacob Kilgore led the team with 38 yards rushing on 13 carries. Cann added 44 yards on 11 attempts, and Chayce Gambrell tallied 34 rushing yards on 11 tries.
Cann also caught five passes for 51 yards. Gambrell had three receptions for 19 yards.
Defensively, Ben Berger led the Wolves with seven tackles. He also recorded a half-sack and a fumble recovery. Joseph Wahl had the other half of the sack.
Max Beckman and Matt Lewis each picked up six tackles. Ayers said the team’s defense played well, but the other facets of the Wolves’ game need to improve.
“Our defense did a great job,” Ayers said. “We have a really good defense. Our coordinator does a great job. We just have to be good on both sides of the ball.”
Ayers noted a few things the Wolves needed to get better at offensively.
“Consistency. staying on our blocks, finishing,” Ayers said. “Things like that. We’ll keep plugging.”
West Clermont opens Eastern Cincinnati Conference play this week with a home game against Turpin. That game is part of the 2018 Skyline Crosstown Showdown.