Wadsworth's Brock Snowball catches a touchdown pass against Medina during the first quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
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MEDINA — The tantalizing question of what the Wadsworth football team’s first-string offense can accomplish in four quarters will have to wait another week because Christian Szalay, Joey Baughman and the boys are 3-for-3 in getting a running clock in the third quarter.
With Baughman putting forth his usual stat-stuffing performance and Szalay tying the school record for receptions, the Grizzlies slowly but surely picked apart injury-riddled Medina, which lost two more key players in a 44-7 non-league game that was relatively competitive for 2ﾽ quarters.
Payback wasn’t part of the equation after the Bees (1-2) beat Wadsworth (3-0) 62-6 and 42-6 the last two years. Maintaining momentum into the Suburban League National Conference opener against Nordonia (0-3) was all that mattered.
“I don’t think it was revenge,” Szalay said. “I think it was come out and play everybody the same. We did our stuff and executed. I guess we just came out on top.”
All-Gazette basketball player Szalay was the go-to guy in the consistently solid short passing attack with 13 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, including a gorgeous 29-yarder in which he wrestled the ball away from a defender who was in textbook position for an interception.
Running back Brock Snowball had a multi-purpose effort with eight carries for 50 yards and five receptions for 78, including a 23-yard TD in which he chilled in the flat until Baughman rolled right and drew in a defender to allow Snowball to streak up the sideline.
Baughman, a Virginia wrestling recruit, ran or passed on 47 of the first 53 plays as the Grizzlies dinked and dunked down the field. The third-team All-Ohioan finished 29-for-41 for 274 yards and three TDs while rushing 13 times for 118 yards and two more scores. He completed his final seven pass attempts and scrambled for 35 and 28 yards on his final carries.
In taking a 21-7 halftime lead, Wadsworth had 46 plays for 229 yards with a long of just 23. It then scored 16 points in a 4:13 stretch of the third quarter to start the running clock, and sophomore Dominic Loparo capped the scoring on a 4-yard scamper with 1:44 left in the game.
“We just tried to tempo them,” Szalay said. “We would switch up the pace. We’d go fast then slow. We moved the ball. We’d run it, we’d try short stuff and then deep. I just think we executed our plays on third downs.”
Medina trotted out its third starting quarterback in three games, Fran Tarkenton-inspired Benedictine transfer Levi Pokersnik, and had opportunities to keep the score close behind an option-based spread offense.
The Bees just couldn’t get out of their own way, as a big pass play to Nick Chester was called back for an illegal man downfield and pressure by safety Alec Miller forced Pokersnik to take a safety on the first snap after Snowball lost a fumble at the 2-yard line.
Medina also converted 1-of-7 third downs — the Bees are 3-of-18 over the last two weeks — and committed three turnovers that led to 21 Wadsworth points.
Pokersnik tied the game at 7 on a 51-yard counter with 3:50 left in the first quarter. The senior finished with 12 carries for 77 yards while going 6-for-16 for 54 yards, though he consistently pulled Houdini acts to get out of trouble after another porous effort from an inexperienced offensive line.
Sophomore running back Dylan O’Dear had eight rushes for 57 yards before leaving with what likely is a season-ending elbow injury, while All-Gazette safety J.T. Scoarste was helped off the field late in the third quarter.
The Bees were already without wide receiver Dylan Fultz, running back Daylonte Davis and quarterback Gavin Montgomery for various reasons and even used Week 2 starting QB Matt Adams at fullback after O’Dear’s injury.
“We saw flashes,” Medina coach Larry Laird said. “We’ve got to become more consistent. We’re a M.A.S.H. unit right now.”
“I feel bad for Medina right now. They’re really injured,” Wadsworth coach Justin Todd added. “They lost another guy tonight, and I talked to Coach Laird. I’ve been there. We had a little bit of that last year, but I understand how that feels. They’ll regroup. They’re really well coached. I thought they had a great game plan.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
Wadsworth 44, Medina 7
WADSWORTH 14 7 16 7 — 44
MEDINA 7 0 0 0 — 7
W — Joey Baughman 5 run (Ryan Larj kick), 4:52.
M — Levi Pokersnik 51 run (Andrew Horton kick), 3:50.
W — Brock Snowball 23 pass from Baughman (Larj kick), 0:00.
W — Baughman 6 run (Larj kick), 0:13.
W — Safety (Pokersnik sacked in end zone), 6:42.
W — Christian Szalay 29 pass from Baughman (Larj kick), 5:50.
W — Szalay 6 pass from Baughman (Larj kick), 2:29.
W — Dominic Loparo 4 run (Larj kick), 1:44.