LAGRANGE — After a big win last week over unbeaten Black River, the Wellington Dukes weren’t about to let winless Keystone stand in the way of their drive to a possible playoff berth and Patriot Athletic Conference championship.
Behind the running of senior Clay Wright and taking advantage of three Wildcat turnovers, the Dukes (5-3, 4-1) scored an amazing 34 first-quarter points to put the game away before the young Keystone offense recorded a first down.
Wright finished with six rushing touchdowns and 196 yards on just 11 carries as the Dukes rolled 55-6. Those figures left him unofficially with 1,008 yards on the season and 19 touchdowns for 114 points, which puts him in contention for the area scoring lead.
“I’ve never had 1,000 yards before,” Wright said. “The feeling is awesome. The line deserves credit though. Every time we ran our counter play there were at least t10 yards of open field ahead of me. I had to do my part and they certainly did theirs, that’s for sure.”
Wright started slowly, for him, running six times for 49 yards on the way to a 3-yard run around the left side for the first score with 5:29 to play in the first quarter. But following successive Keystone fumbles deep in its own territory, the Wright scored from 38 and 30 yards for a 21-0 lead.
And there was still 4:48 to play in the first quarter, plenty of time for the Dukes to pad their lead with a 50-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dylan Weidrick and a 17-yarder by Wright, his fourth score of the quarter.
“I was real happy with the way we came out,” Wellington coach Matt Stoll said. “I was worried about a letdown after a big rivalry win over Black River last week, but our kids came out and really executed well.”
Maintaining the correct attitude took some doing, however, in the days after the 48-21 win over the Pirates.
“Believe me, I was screaming a lot in practice this week,” Stoll said. “We seemed kind of lackadaisical. I kept trying to make sure the kids stayed focused because there is a lot we can accomplish this year if we keep playing good football like we are right now.”
The Dukes remained focused in the second half, although the scoring pace slowed to just 14 points. Wright slid past several defenders on the way to a 38-yard score, his fifth of the night with 6:43 to play in the half. Later, following a minidrive by the Wildcats, Wellington’s Alex Rush broke free for 67 yards and a 48-0 halftime lead.
“Wellington is a big game for us and I thought we could compete a little better,” Keystone coach Rob Clarico said. “But three big turnovers put it out of reach really earlier. Matt (Stoll) has got a great team over there and there’s no shame in losing to them, but we wish we could have given them a better fight.”
Clarico had nothing but praise for the Wellington offensive leader.
“He’s been an incredible player in this league since he was a freshman,” he said of Wright. “A case can be made that he’s the best player in the league.”
WRIGHT REIGNS: Wright scored six touchdowns but only ran the ball once in the second half, scoring on a 15-yard run with just 1:03 gone. After that score, the Dukes replaced the starters and both teams basically scrimmaged their way through a quick second half.