SKIP BAUGHMAN STADIUM -- ST. MARYS Failing to overcome a disasterous start, St. Marys dropped its Western Buckeye League Opener, 31-14 to Wapakoneta Friday at Skip Baughman Stadium.
The Redskins jumped out to a 14-0 lead before many of the Roughrider fans had settled into their seats.
Quarterback Travis Sensabaugh got things started with a 34-yard scoring strike to tight end Ryan Nagel with 8:31 left in the first quarter.
The Riders' first play from scrimmage never really was a play, as sophomore quarterback Corey Vossler couldn't handle the snap and Wapak fell on the loose ball.
It was déjà vu all over again on the very next play as Sensabaugh hit Nagel over the middle for another 34 yards. However, Nagel was dragged down at the St. Marys two-yard line. Ben Erb bulled into the endzone on the next play, as just 16 seconds went off clock between Wapak touchdowns.
After missing the PAT kick after the first score, the Skins elected to go for two, and Sensabaugh had no problems rolling out and into the end zone untouched for a 14-0 lead with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
"That was a huge start for us," Wapakoneta Coach Darrell Jones said. "It's always good to get off to a good start, but when you're playing a ball control team like St. Marys it's always good to take advantage of your scoring opportunities, and I think we put them on their heels."
"I give all the credit in the world to the Wapak players and coaching staff," Rider head coach Doug Frye said. "They came out and played hard, and took advantage of their opportunities."
Turnovers hampered the Riders all night, including a second quarter drive-stopper. After starting on its own 30, St. Marys drove inside the Wapak 10. But on a third-and-three scramble Vossler fumbled and the Skins recovered.
From there the St. Marys defense rose up and established some momentum, stuffing Wapak on three straight plays, and forcing a punt, which Adam Chiles blocked at the one-yard line. Vossler covered the yard on the next play and Nick Pfeffenberger's PAT brought the Riders to within 7 with 8:02 left to play in the half.
Two possessions later the Riders returned the favor on the blocked punt. Deep in his own territory, punter Matt Helmstetter failed to control the snap, leading to a block. Seven plays later Justin Brown took a pitch from Sensabaugh and rambled 14 yard to pay dirt and a 21-7 lead with 1:40 left in the half.
An excellent kick return by Chiles put the Riders in position to score one more time before the half. Starting near midfield Vossler was able to scramble for good yardage a few times. After a Wapakoneta holding penalty put the ball inside the 20, Vossler found tight end Matt Schlater across the middle for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 13.9 seconds left in the half.
St. Marys hoped to carry the momentum into the second half, but Wapak's defense had other ideas. The Redskins, who put 10 defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage stopped the Riders on three plays to open the second half.
"We're on a roller-coaster," Coach Frye said. "We're not as good a team as we looked like we were last week (against Sidney), but we're not as bad as we looked tonight."
"We wanted to stop their run," Jones said. "We gave up a few drives, but we wanted to keep them from breaking anything big on us, and I thought we did a good job. I was especially pleased with the way the kids hung in there when the game got close. We didn't let down."
The Redskins didn't muster much offense in the second half. Most of it came on the next drive as they pushed the ball inside the St. Marys five yard line before settling for a 17-yard field goal by Josh Murray with 7:06 left in the quarter.
St. Marys followed with its best sustained drive of the night. But things got bogged down inside the Wapak 10, and on fourth down Frye elected to match Wapakıs field goal. However, hanging on to the ball once again proved to be a problem, as the snap and hold never seemed to come together resulting in a missed 18-yarder for Pfeffenberger.
The Rider defense was again tough on the next series, forcing a three-and-out. However, the third turnover of the night proved to be fatal. Vossler rolled back to pass and was hit as he threw resulting in a wounded duck that floated into the hands of Mark Fiebelkorn, who returned it 78 yards for a 31-14 lead with 7:14 left to play.
Any faint hopes of a comeback were dashed on the next series as a Vossler-to-Justin Nagel handoff fell on the turf for the Riders fourth and final turnover.
The turnovers overshadowed a solid performance by the St. Marys defense, which held Wapak to just 79 yards rushing. Sensabaugh completed his first five passes of the game for 117 yards, but from there, Wapak was just one-of-seven passing for 13 yards.
The Roughriders rolled up 225 yards rushing and led most of the stats including turnovers 4-0.
"We weren't prepared tonight, and I blame myself for that," Frye said. "But we have a week to get ready for O-G. I can't wait for next week."
St. Marys (1-1) returns to Skip Baughman Stadium to host Ottawa-Glandorf next week. The 2-0 Titans thumped Elida 55-21 Friday and have scored 122 points in their first two games this season.