PERRYSBURG — Once again Napoleon’s defense played well enough to give the Wildcats a chance at victory. The offense, however, continues to struggle, with Perrysburg posting a 28-0 Northern Lakes League win Friday at Steinecker Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets held the Wildcats to 123 yards total offense, including 88 yards rushing on 40 attempts. Napoleon had eight first downs, with half of them coming on a single drive late in the game.
“Here’s the thing, we knew we were coming into a hornet’s nest and you know Perrysburg smelled blood in the water,” said Napoleon coach Tory Strock, whose Wildcats fell to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the NLL with the loss. “The way the kids responded and the physicality they played with, I thought was inspired. That type of effort is going to get us over the hump.”
For sure, the Wildcats were in the game for most of three quarters, but that rests mainly on the shoulders of the defense.
Perrysburg (3-2 overall and 2-0 in the NLL) had a balanced attack with 180 yards rushing, led by Connor Waldenzak with 99 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, and TJ Takats’ 12 of 16 passing for 193 yards and two TDs.
Napoleon was able to minimize the damage of all those yards, holding Perrysburg out of the end zone in the first quarter.
The Yellow Jackets finally got on the scoreboard with 5:41 left in the first half on a Takats 1-yard run on fourth down to cap a 16-play, 62-yard drive that lasted more than 6 1/2 minutes.
With time running out in the first half, Perrysburg picked up a big score with a Takats finding Kanyon Gagich for a 19-yard TD pass with 1:28 remaining before intermission.
The score capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive that took only 1:30 and gave Perrysburg a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Waldenzak scored on a 19-yard run with 5:41 remaining in the third and Takats connected with Jack Borer for his second TD throw of the game with just under 11 minutes left in the contest.
Napoleon drove the ball 65 yards in 12 plays to the Perrysburg 8-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but two incomplete passes in the end zone ended the threat.
“Our margin for error is very small,” said Strock, whose Cats had six penalties for 60 yards. “We don’t have the experience to overcome the mistakes yet. Our inexperience really starts to show when you play a really athletic team.”
Michael Chipps led Napoleon with 57 yards rushing on 23 carries, while Blake Wolf was 4 of 8 passing for 35 yards.
Still, Strock said the Wildcats are trending in the right direction.
“If we can bottle the energy we played with tonight this team will win some football games,” said the Napoleon coach. “When we play with energy and we play fast good things happen. Through three quarters we were in this football game.”
Napoleon returns home Friday to host Maumee for homecoming.