Wayne stops Tolsia
WAYNE — After a first half that saw Wayne and Tolsia dominate each other with defense, the Pioneers stayed in the locker room more than 19 of the 20 minutes at the break.
The message Wayne coach Tom Harmon delivered got through.
The Pioneers outscored the visiting Rebels, 21-0 and held Tolsia to just 13 yards of total offense in the second half for a 28-0 win at sweltering, packed Pioneer Field.
“Just don’t get away from the things that we do,” Harmon said of what he told his team at halftime. “Sometimes you get to trying to do too much and forget what’s in front of you. I thought we calmed down and did what we were supposed to do. Tolsia did a nice job of playing hard and we knew they would.”
The Rebels offense struggled mightily, with only three positive yardage plays against Wayne’s first string defense. Out of Tolsia’s 28 rushing attempts, 16 went for negative yards. Two others were for no gain, and two more were for a yard apiece.
The Wayne defense gave the Pioneer offense time to get on track. The Rebels were stout defensively, getting penetration into Wayne’s backfield multiple times in the first half. Wayne had eight negative yardage rushes in the first half.
“It’s always a work in progress. We’re not where we need to be. Most teams aren’t at this time of year,” Harmon said. “I was pleased we were able to make some quick corrections after we calmed down a little bit, and it paid off.”
Those corrections were aided by an effective passing game. Junior Grant Ferguson completed 10-of-18 passes for 120 yards, which helped open lanes for the running game.
“Being able to do different kinds of things offensively helped us,” Harmon said. “Once we got it moving through the air, our running game started moving. One works off the other.”
Senior Brody Lunsford scored two touchdowns and junior Mason Hodge ran for 76 yards for Wayne, which has won its opener for the 14th consecutive season. Wayne has now won 24 straight games, the longest active streak in West Virginia. Going back to last year, the Pioneers have shut out their last four opponents.
Wes Waller was a defensive standout for the Rebels (0-1). Tolsia will play host to Mingo Central next week. Wayne will play at Chesapeake, Ohio.