PLYMOUTH — Friday night Plymouth’s Rockies wrote their own lyrics to an old Paul McCartney hit from the 1980’s, “With a little Drudge we can make this whole darn thing work out.”
Plymouth got more than a little from talented sophomore running back Justin Drudge in a 53-14 homecoming win over Wawasee. He had the night of his short career so far, scoring touchdowns the first three times he touched the ball, ending the night with four scores, 112 yards on just six carries, catching two passes for another 78 yards and recording another 45 yards on a kick return.
He joins the parade of Rockies offensive stars that have emerged in the past three games. Three weeks ago Ike Kastner returned to the lineup with a bang rushing for over 200 yards. A week ago it was senior Sam Stevens as a one-man wrecking crew and now Drudge emerges as yet another threat.
“I’ve been saying it for the past couple weeks that we’ve got a lot of weapons on our offense,” said Plymouth Head Coach John Barron. “When you run the triple you need a quarterback making good decisions, a fullback that runs hard, and our wings are talented. You can see that he (Drudge) is an elusive, tough kid who can also catch the ball downfield.
“And all of it happens because we have a pretty darn good offensive line.”
Perhaps lost in the fireworks of Plymouth’s overpowering offensive display (564 yards of offense and a average of nearly 10 yards a play) was the most interesting story of the night in the Plymouth defense.
Since the first three weeks of the season when the Rockies (4-2) gave up 72 points, the defense has completely turned around its season, surrendering just 13 the past three. The Warriors (2-4) scored on special teams — a kickoff return — and after another big kickoff return set up a short field for the offense.
Wawasee could manage just 38 yards rushing and a grand total of 173 yards of total offense in the game. The tone was set with four big fourth-down-and-short stops in the first quarter.
“The big thing is our kids up front can play run defense really well,” said Barron. “Playing with the two safeties lets us disguise some coverages a little better. The biggest thing is they are just playing with confidence right now.”
“The new scheme has made it a lot easier for us to read our keys,” said senior inside linebacker Ethan Sampson. “Our defensive linemen are a real big part of why we’re having success right now. We started a little shaky, but once we got back to full strength we figured lets just go win it.”
Plymouth is now 3-1 in Northern Lakes Conference action with a big rivalry game on the road next week at Concord — a loser to Jimtown Friday night. Wawasee is 1-3 in conference action and at home with Warsaw next week.
• PLYMOUTH 53, WAWASEE 14
Score by Quarters
Wawasee: 0 14 0 0 — 14
Plymouth: 14 26 0 13 — 53
06:41 PLYM - Justin Drudge 61 yd run (Jacob Frantz kick).
03:21 PLYM - J. Drudge 15 yd run (J. Frantz kick).
10:56 PLYM - Ike Kastner 1 yd run (J. Frantz kick failed).
10:43 WAWA - Clayton Cook 93 yd kickoff return (Jordan Acton kick).
07:03 PLYM - J. Drudge 13 yd run (I. Kastner rush failed).
05:37 WAWA - Cook 21 yd pass from Gage Reinhard (Acton kick).
05:21 PLYM - Sam Stevens 58 yd run (S. Stevens rush failed).
00:46 PLYM - J. Drudge 17 yd run (I. Kastner rush).
11:34 PLYM - S. Stevens 8 yd run (J. Frantz kick), 11-82 5:21.
08:21 PLYM - E. Eads 23 yd pass from I. Kastner (S. Stevens rush failed).
RUSHING: (Wawasee 29-38) - Derrick Sorenson 22-41; Sam Rookstool 1-4; Gabe Rhodes 2-2; Devin Beer 1-minus 3; Jordan Elliott 1-minus 3; Gage Reinhard 2-minus 3. (Plymouth 52-416, 7 TD) -Sam Stevens 17-135; Justin Drudge 6-112; Ike Kastner 17-96; Christian Bastardo 4-38; Kyle Lacefield 4-17; Elliott Eads 3-12; Brandon Zehner 1-6.
PASSING: Wawasee-Reinhard 9-19-0-135. Plymouth-I. Kastner 5-8-0-148.
RECEIVING: Wawasee-Rhodes 4-51; Cook 3-46; Clark 2-38. Plymouth-J. Drudge 2-78; E. Eads 2-37; T. Briles 1-33.
INTERCEPTIONS: Wawasee-None. Plymouth-None.
TACKLES (UA-A): Wawasee-Maclain Herr 10; Brandin McCulloch 8; Plymouth-Deandre Pickford 8; John Stillson 8.