SYRACUSE — After running off three straight wins in Weeks 2 through 4, the Rockies seem to be bottoming out.
Plymouth gave up two scores little more than three minutes in and gained just 50 total offensive yards in the second half en route to their second straight Northern Lakes Conference defeat, 39-12 on the road at Wawasee Friday.
“We got beat by a better football team,” said Plymouth head football coach John Barron. “They were more physical than we were. We just couldn’t defend the run very well at all. It’s not like we didn’t know what they were doing. So we’ve got a lot of work to do, there’s no question about it.
“Right now I think it’s more mental than anything. We need to continue believing in one another, we’ve got to rely on our older kids to keep our program going in the right direction because right now we’re at an all-time low.”
After racking up some impressive rushing yards in its three wins between Week 2 and Week 4, Plymouth got beaten at its own game at Wawasee.
Wawasee out-rushed the Rockies 358 yards to 191 on the night and pilfered two of five Plymouth fumbles. Plymouth struggled moving the ball through the air too, as the Warriors snared a big interception in the fourth quarter to set up the game’s final score while holding the visitors to 5-1-1 passing in the loss.
“They play with a lot of confidence because they only do a certain amount of things, and they’re real good at it,” said Barron. “They give you the threat of a pass, but they really don’t want to throw the ball, and when you’re running it like they did tonight with success, then you’re going to continue to do that. Those are things that we’ve done in the past, but the past is the past. Right now we’re just not a very good football team. You can’t give up as many yards rushing as we did.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 13-point lead early on their homecoming night with a three-play, 57-yard strike capped off by a Derrick Sorenson 12-yard run on their opening possession and another three-play strike from 20 yards out as the Rockies coughed up a fumble inside their own red zone on their second offensive play of the night, and Sorenson ran in his second TD from 8 yards out to put Wawasee up 13-0 after a Kyle Clevenger PAT and a bad snap that turned into a failed run on the second score.
Plymouth cut its deficit to 13-6 as the Rockies put together a 14-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped off by a Chase Peters 5-yard run at the 2:32 mark of the first frame, although the kick was blocked.
Sorenson completed his third touchdown run of the night from 13 yards out at the 10:41 stop of the second frame as the Warriors ground up 62 yards on 10 plays, and Wawasee went up 20-6 with the ensuing Clevenger kick.
Rockies QB Ike Kastner ran in a 1-yard keeper on a fourth-and-goal situation with 5:49 left in second quarter to keep Plymouth in the game 20-12 when the two-point conversion pass was broken up in the end zone.
Wawasee started the second half as fast as it had started the first as Bauer Schmeltz completed a 29-yard touchdown run and Clevenger kicked the PAT at the mere 10:05 mark of the third quarter. Jordan Schmitt ran in a 6-yarder at the 4:47 mark of the fourth, and Sorenson ticked off his last touchdown of the night on a 21-yard run just 1:20 later following a Jake Clark interception of a Kastner pass that brought the score to its final margin with a failed two-point conversion on a high kick snap.
Sorenson led the Warriors with 180 yards on 22 carries and four touchdowns, while Schmeltz chewed up 134 yards in 15 carries for one TD.
Plymouth was led in rushing by 65 yards and a score from Kastner, 55 yards and a score from Peters, and an uncharacteristic 67 yards Friday.
“Those three guys have got to be our guys,” said Barron. “That’s what we do is run the option game. I thought we played better up front to get those guys some holes. I thought Ike ran hard, I thought Sam ran hard. Sam’s been fighting some illness since the beginning of the week so I’m not sure he’s 100 percent and we’ve got a couple other kids like that too.”
The Rockies play host to Concord next week in a homecoming game at The Rockpile.
• WAWASEE 39,
Score by quarters
Plymouth: 6 6 0 0 — 12
Wawasee: 13 7 7 12 — 39
W — Derrick Sorenson 12-yd run (Kyle Clevenger kick)
W — Sorensen 8-yd run (Run fail)
P — Chase Peters 5-yd run (Kick blocked)
W — Sorensen 13-yd run (Clevenger kick)
P — Ike Kastner 1-yd run (Pass fail)
W — Bauer Schmeltz 29-yd run (Clevenger kick)
W — Jordan Schmitt 6-yd (Kick fail)
W — Sorenson 21-yd run (Rush fail)
Rushing: 44-191; Sam Stevens 18-67, Ike Kastner 17-65, Peters 8-55
Passing: Kastner 4-0-1, John Ruff 1-1-0 for 20 yds
Receiving: Knapp 1-20
First downs: 12
Penalties-yds lost: 2-10
Rushing: 43-358; Sorenson 22-180, Schmeltz 15-134
First downs: 18
Penalties-yds lost: 4-30
Records: Plymouth 3-3 (2-2 NLC), Wawasee 4-2 (3-1 NLC)