The Dukes defense put together another sound effort Friday, but a relentless pass rush from the Lutheran West Longhorns (3-2) spelled a 21-0 defeat for Wellington (0-5) in Patriot Athletic Conference play.
The teams traded three-and-outs and turnovers in a scoreless first quarter and into the second, including a leaping interception by Wellington senior Nathaniel Shelton.
A long pass from Lutheran West quarterback Rory Zakareckis to junior Shawn Naim set up a one-yard touchdown run with 5:12 remaining in the first half.
After the game, Shelton said improvement is needed across the board.
“We all need to be working harder in practice,” he said. “We’re slacking off, goofing off, and being a bunch of teenagers. We need to pick it up there so we can come out for game time and be ready.”
The Dukes pass rushing duo of Drew Mason and Alex Goss helped to consistently collapse the pocket — notching multiple sacks and tackles in the Lutheran West backfield. However, the Longhorns defense was even more disruptive when Wellington quarterbacks Jayden Skinner and Mason Wright dropped back to pass.
Dukes quarterbacks were sacked 10 times. The team was held to 49 yards through the air and 10 yards rushing.
“We need to be together as a team,” said Shelton. “It’s all been about me, me, me. If we play as an ‘us’ and start grouping together, we can start being a team and do the things we want to do.”
Lutheran West returned the second half’s opening kickoff 78 yards to extend the lead to 14-0. The Dukes pass rush continued to make plays, including stripping Zakareckis as he was about to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter, forcing a touchback and regaining possession.
A big play from the Dukes, a 75-yard pass to Mason McClellan, was negated by a holding call later in the fourth.
Soon thereafter, a blocked Wellington punt gave the ball back to the Longhorns seven yards away from another score. Tackles for loss, including one by linebacker Brandon Sorg, pushed Lutheran West back to the 26-yard line, but Zakareckis managed to shrug off another sack and scramble for the night’s final points.
In the third quarter, the game was delayed for 30 minutes after a Lutheran West player was injured on a tackle. He did not make it back to his feet before being placed on a stretcher and taken away by ambulance.
Next up for Wellington is a road match-up with perennial PAC heavyweight Buckeye (5-0).
“We’re going to have to look at the offensive line,” said Wellington head coach Roy Moore. “That can mean blocking assignments or new people new positions. I have to look at the film first and see where we’re at. Some way, we have to redo our blocking. We’re getting manhandled and we shouldn’t be.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.