Incomplete passes and crippling penalties cost the Wellington Dukes a 36-0 loss Friday against the Keystone Wildcats.
Dukes quarterback Benjamin Higgens started the first quarter with a pass to receiver Nathaniel Shelton, gaining 20 yards on the play. Four incomplete passes and a penalty for holding turned the game over to Keystone.
Bobby Weber threw to running back Jack Corraini for a 60-yard run. A penalty moved the ‘Cats back five yards, but Weber shook it off and ran 12 yards for touchdown, giving Keystone its first taste of the victory to come. A PAT by Zac Marsh bumped the score to 7-0 with 7:43 left in the quarter.
Wellington took over on the 31-yard line, but couldn’t produce. After running the ball fairly well and using short passes to sideline receivers, the Dukes lost confidence.
Keystone also had its fair share of incomplete passes, but a Wellington penalty helped push the Wildcats to first and goal. A Dylan Naylor touchdown at 39 seconds brought them into the second quarter 14-0.
A 65-yard touchdown pass from Weber to Justin Able pushed Keystone across the goal line with a two-point conversion upping the score to 22-0.
Two short passes from Higgens to Mason Wright gained 10 yards for the Dukes, but two incomplete passes on the third and fourth downs left them no choice but to punt.
A complete Keystone touchdown pass celebration was sliced by a yellow flag and a fumble handed possession to the Dukes in the red zone, but Wellington had difficulty maintaining blocks.
A four-yard touchdown by Dylan Naylor took the Wildcats up 29-0 by the half.
The Dukes didn’t come back strong. Two penalties for an illegal shift and unsportsmanlike conduct and a third quarter fumble paved the way for two more Keystone touchdowns, sealing the game 43-0.
The Dukes are away Friday to face Brookside (1-6, 0-2) in Sheffield, where they will attempt to change the tides.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.