A big step forward against a conference rival sometimes comes after a small step back.
After the Dukes (3-3) took a 7-0 lead Friday evening, they were outscored 28-0 by Buckeye (5-1), ultimately falling to the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars-leading Bucks 35-21.
“They really stopped our running game,” said Dukes quarterback Max Carevic, who threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns. “We got down a little bit and hurt ourselves.”
Wellington ran for just 17 yards against a tough Buckeye front after totaling 359 in its past two games against Oberlin and Brooklyn. The Dukes’ run defense also held up in the early goings, but eventually wore down as Buckeye running back Michael Doerge plodded out 149 yards on 41 carries.
“It’s about execution and doing the little things,” said Dukes running back Nate Nocella. “We stood toe to toe with them early, but dumb penalties and lack of execution really came back to haunt us.”
Senior Trevor Porter opened up scoring in the first quarter with a 69-yard catch and run. He scored again on a two-yard pass in the fourth quarter and ended up with another big night to the tune of six catches and 143 yards.
Buckeye responded with 21 second quarter points through two Doerge touchdowns on the ground and another 52-yarder through the air just before halftime.
Doerge scored once more in the fourth before Nocella caught a well-placed lob to the sideline from Carevic and took it to the house from 85-yards out to make it 28-14. An interception was run back for a touchdown on the next Wellington drive, though, essentially put the game out of reach.
Despite the loss, Wellington head coach Sean Arno made sure to praise his team’s effort after the game. He told players to hold their heads high because they battled hard against a tough opponent.
“Buckeye’s defense played awesome and my hat is off to them,” he said. “Our defense played well, too, but they were out there for a long time. We gave up the edge too much tonight and didn’t read our switches on a couple of big plays. The score right before the half was especially bad. Tonight was one of those should’ve-could’ve games like against Columbia.”
Next up on the schedule is another tough conference opponent, the 5-1 Firelands Falcons, who’ve given up a combined 31 points in the past five weeks, all wins, since a season-opening loss at home to Edison.
“We’re going to make corrections and come back out ready to play,” said Arno. “We should still be in the hunt if we can execute some details as the season goes along.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise The Dukes student section was ready for battle during Friday’s huge conference matchup against Buckeye, cheering for the maroon and white.