The Dukes fell to 0-4 Friday night after a 44-6 defeat at the hands of the Clearview Clippers (3-1) in Patriot Athletic Conference play.
While turnovers early in games have been a main component in the rough start to the Dukes’ season, the script was flipped against Clearview, with Wellington recovering a fumble on the Clippers’ first drive and Parker Rieske recovering a muffed punt a few series later.
In both instances, though, the Dukes were unable to capitalize and handed the ball right back to Clearview with turnovers of their own.
“I want to take a lot of the blame,” said senior quarterback Mason Wright, whose scrambling ability accounted for the majority of Wellington’s offensive yards. “I’m not that tall, though, and we have to get better as a team during a scramble drill. Receivers need to know when to break off their routes. We’re all just going to keep working.”
Wellington lined up in a trick play with offensive linemen split out wide on its first play from scrimmage. The ensuing pass, however, landed in the hands of Clearview’s Jaylen Paschel, who ran the interception back 27 yards for a quick 8-0 lead.
Good pressure from the Dukes’ front seven forced a Clearview turnover on downs with six minutes left in the first quarter. After the Clippers fumbled away Wellington’s punt soon thereafter, Paschel grabbed another interception. This time, the visitors capitalized with an 82-yard touchdown run by Drew Engle, one of two on the night for the junior.
An 81-yard punt return touchdown and five-yard score on the ground spelled a 28-0 lead at halftime.
“We’ve been harping on a lot of this stuff for five weeks but it’s back to the drawing board,” said Dukes head coach Roy Moore. “We didn’t come to play with these guys tonight.”
The Dukes got on the board in the fourth quarter courtesy of a seven-yard run by sophomore Michael Casella, a high-snap into the Dukes endzone for a safety, Engle’s second rushing touchdown, and a Duke fumble returned 31 yards for six.
Wellington will travel to Rocky River this Friday for another PAC match-up against the 2-2 Lutheran West Longhorns.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.