SHEFFIELD TWP. — Wellington coach Matt Stoll was starting to question himself after the Dukes opened the season with an uncharacteristic 0-4 start. He’s also been around long enough to know that one big night can turn things around in a hurry.
Behind senior quarterback Dylan Weidrick, who ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns, and junior running back Quinton Dendinger, who added 171 yards and a pair of scores, Wellington ran all over Clearview on the Clippers’ Homecoming night, posting a 43-13 win.
“This was possibly one of the biggest wins of my coaching career,” Stoll said after the Dukes improved to 1-4. “You start to feel every time you lose a game, ‘Hey, are we ever going to win another one?’ So it really was a big one. It was big for our kids to start to get their confidence back, and I know we’re going to feel a lot better tomorrow morning, that’s for sure.
“We will celebrate this one. You feel the butterflies and the nervousness, but once the game starts, you forget about it. You start to feel it build, and I think the kids felt it as well. This is a really big win for us.”
If this win does turn the season around, the point at which it pivoted may have been the opening kickoff. Clearview’s Gerrell Williams was hit hard and fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Wellington’s Brock Waltz on the Clippers’ 37-yard line.
Four plays later, after connecting on his only completion of the night — a 29-yarder to Dendinger — Weidrick scored from 6 yards out.
It was a shocking turn of events for the Clippers (3-2).
“That’s obviously not the way we wanted to start the game,” Clearview coach Mike Collier said. “We took the ball for a reason, we wanted our offense on the field and we wanted to move the ball. We felt that we could do that, but it didn’t turn out that way. Right off the bat we missed a few assignments and we’re down.”
Wellington’s defense came up big in three of the next four series, keeping the Clippers from converting on a fourth down play, forcing a fumble and picking off a pass.
After the Dukes offense wasted one of the turnovers, it was barely stopped again. Wellington scored on five of its next seven positions and dominated play with 463 yards rushing. Weidrick scored on runs of 15, 4 and 8 yards, while Dendinger capped drives from 10 and 2 yards.
“We knew that on film they were a better team than what their record showed,” Collier said. “They outplayed us, we didn’t carry out our assignments on defense and we turned the ball over on offense. You’re just not going to win games like that against good teams.”
The Clippers scored their first touchdown in the second quarter when senior running back Chad Anderson finished a seven-play, 68-yard drive with a 7-yard run. But just as Clearview worked its way back to a 13-7 deficit late in the first half, Wellington quickly answered to close the half with a 21-7 lead.
Anderson was one of the lone bright spots for Clearview, rushing for 157 yards on 26 carries, while sophomore quarterback Roger Engle returned to the lineup after missing last week’s win over Keystone.
Engle connected on 15 of 27 passes for 146 yards and a 17-yard touchdown pass to Williams.
But the night belonged to the Dukes.
“We got back to playing Dukes football tonight,” Weidrick said. “We ran the ball real well, took care of the ball, created some turnovers and came out with the win. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
A LITTLE HELP FROM MOTHER NATURE: Weidrick may have been one of the very few that enjoyed the weather … and, in fact, he loved it. “This was our kind of weather,” Weidrick said. “It’s raining, it’s pouring, but that’s our kind of field conditions. We love to run in weather like this. I really loved it tonight.”