Atrocious, embarrassing, unacceptable — all words used by Wellington Dukes football coach Sean Arno to describe his team’s play Friday night against the Columbia Raiders.
The Dukes were routed for the second straight week as the Raiders (2-0) pounded the Dukes 62-6 in a non-conference game.
The Raiders grabbed control early.
On the Dukes’ third play from scrimmage, Columbia’s Jordan Delisle picked off Wellington quarterback Tristan Arno and raced 34 yards into the end zone for the touchdown. A Cody Reichard PAT gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 10:53 left in the first quarter.
A three-and-out by the Dukes on the ensuing series gave way to a Wellington highlight as the Dukes stopped the Raiders offense. On fourth-and-27 from the their own 43 yard line, junior Nate Nocella sacked Raiders quarterback Jacob Viccarone to give the Dukes the ball at the 31 yard line.
The Dukes moved it down to the 19 on a fourth down run by Arno for a fresh set of downs. But the Dukes offense sputtered with a no gain on first down and three successive incomplete passes including a one on fourth down to a wide open Parker Rieske.
Columbia took over with 7:13 left in the quarter and put together a textbook 14-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in Jesse Lambert running into the end zone untouched from two yards out. Another PAT gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead with 19 seconds left in the quarter.
The Dukes’ fourth series of the night ended on an Arno fumble at the Wellington 25 yard line. Columbia needed four plays to punch it in and a PAT gave the Raiders a 21-0 lead with 10:07 left in the half.
Arno was picked off on the next drive by Lambert, who raced 35 yards into the end zone for the score.
A fake punt that resulted in a first down lent some excitement to the next Wellington possession but the Dukes punted four plays later and Columbia took advantage. On first-and-10 from the Dukes 45, Viccarone hit Lambert for a touchdown pass and the PAT gave the Raiders a 34-0 with 5:37 left in the half.
Wellington put together its lone scoring drive on the ensuing possession. Starting at their own 20, Arno connected with Ethan Thomas, Jordan Howard, and Trevor Porter (twice) to move the Dukes to the Columbia 13 yard line. After getting backed up to the 18, the Dukes ran a reverse to Thomas who got around the end and into the end zone for the score.
The two-point conversion failed and the Dukes trailed 34-6.
The 2:28 remaining on the clock gave the Raiders enough time to put together another long touchdown drive to go up 41-6 with 48 ticks on the clock. Wellington chose to kneel.
Columbia continued its dominance in the third quarter with another 14 unanswered points.
Early in the fourth, the Raiders lined up for a 50-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Parker Adler. As the Dukes celebrated, Viccarone alertly picked up the live ball and rumbled down the sideline for the first down.
A dead ball personal foul by the Dukes moved the ball down to the eight and two plays later Adam Alten rumbled in from one yard out. The PAT ran the lead to 62-6 and closed out the scoring.
“This is a good win for us but there’s room for improvement,” said Columbia coach Jason Ward. “I don’t think we were as focused and crisp early on as we needed to be. Against a young team you might get away with that but we can’t continue to come out like that. I thought things got better as the game went on but we still have work to do.”
As do the Dukes.
“This was atrocious and embarrassing,” said Wellington coach Sean Arno. “Our game plan coming in was solid and I cannot believe we couldn’t execute it. The offense gave up points instead of scoring them. The defense let Columbia have their way. Special teams lost their focus and it led to a Columbia touchdown. I’m very disappointed in our performance in every aspect of this game.
“It’s simply unacceptable.”
The Dukes gave up 349 yards while only gaining 164.
Thomas led the Dukes on the ground with 30 yards while Max Carevic (21 yards), Everett Kropff (15), Tristan Arno (8), Antonio Hernandez (4), and Justin Skinner (2) rounded out the ground game.
Arno finished 8-of-19 for 84 yards and a pair of picks returned for touchdowns. Howard led the receiving corps with 42 yards on a pair of receptions while Porter (34 yards) and Thomas (8) catching the other completions.
After a pair of tough match-ups, the Dukes come up on the easy part of their schedule with games against New London, Oberlin, and Brooklyn who are a combined 1-5.
The Dukes travel to New London this Friday to face a Wildcats team coming off a 14-8 loss to Cuyahoga Heights. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Hans Schneider can be reached at email@example.com.
Russ Gifford | Wellington Enterprise Dukes wide receiver Ethan Thomas eludes a tackler to pick up additional yardage in season opener play in August. Wellington was slammed again this week in a 62-6 loss to the Columbia Raiders.