Clay Archer, Contributor
WAVERLY — After a loss in Week 2 at the hands of Amanda-Clearcreek, one that was much closer than the eventual 32-14 final, Unioto wasn’t at all expected to win Friday evening.
After all, the Shermans had to make a trip to Waverly, where they’d meet with an undefeated offense and one that came into the contest averaging 39.5 points per game. They’d also have to face a defense that had built momentum with a blowout win the week before.
So, to put it simply, Unioto wasn’t supposed to win. But Unioto didn’t receive that memo.
Instead, the Shermans (2-1) went into Waverly and handed the Tigers (2-1) a lopsided 41-14 loss on their home turf.
“It’s just a huge win. To think that we held these guys to 14 points with all their weapons … our defense just bought into the game plan and did exactly what we asked them to do,” Unioto coach Jeff Metzler said. “I hope that some people will respect Unioto with a quality win like this.”
As Metzler alluded to, the Shermans’ win was anchored by their defense. For the second straight week, the group forced four turnovers … one that was returned for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, running back Jamarcus Carroll was up to his old tricks again. The senior carried the ball 21 times for 85 yards and found the end zone four times, doubling his season total.
“It’s a huge win,” Carroll said. “We’ve been getting beat by [Waverly] forever. “We put the work in at practice and we wanted this win. We lost to a great Amanda team. Waverly resembles [Amanda] a lot. Last week, we lost in the fourth quarter. We weren’t going to do that again.”
After Unioto’s defense ended Waverly’s opening drive with a fourth down stop, the Shermans started their night with a 29-yard pass play from Isaac Little to Carroll. Later in the drive, after another 20-yard pass to Chris Scaggs, Carroll plunged into the end zone from nine yards out.
With a 7-0 lead, the Shermans’ defense forced a fumble with a strip sack, putting the offense back on the field in the red zone. Three plays later, Carroll found paydirt again, making it 13-0 (failed two-point attempt) with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
Waverly countered with a four-play, 57-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard pass from Haydn’ Shanks to Mark Stulley, cutting the Shermans’ lead to 13-7. But on the ensuing drive, Unioto’s Isaac Little found Byrd Green in the end zone for a three-yard score, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive and extending the lead to 19-7 … the eventual halftime score.
After the break, Waverly made it a one possession game with 8:59 left in the third when Payton Shoemaker ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run. But that was the final time the Tigers scored.
With a 19-14 lead, Unioto scored 22 unanswered points, coming on two- and five-yard runs from Carroll, and a 48-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown from Scaggs.
“That fumble recovery was the final nail in the coffin,” Metzler said. “That was just huge.”
After Carroll’s performance, Little finished with 95 rushing yards on 14 carries. He also passed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-13 attempts. Scaggs ended the night with 31 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards while Green caught three passes for 43 yards and a score.
Shoemaker again led Waverly’s offense with 201 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts. Shanks was 10-of-15 through the air for 79 yards and a touchdown but had to leave the game in the second quarter with a leg injury. His replacement, Wade Futhey, completed 9-of-18 passes for 59 yards.
In Week 4, Unioto begins its conference schedule while hosting Piketon. The Tigers will attempt to bounce back with a trip to Fairland.
“[Waverly] has had this coming for a long time from us,” Carroll said. “We’ve never beaten them [in his four years]. We swarmed the ball. It was amazing. Just amazing.”