BOSWELL – Three different Windber running backs scored two touchdowns apiece, and its defense silenced North Star’s offense, as the Ramblers got back into the win column with a dominating 42-0 victory over the Cougars on Friday night.
“They played pretty well,” Windber coach Matt Grohal said after his team bounced back from a 27-14 loss to Berlin last week. “I think the loss stung on the coaching staff more than these guys. They came back to work on Saturday morning and got after it. We had a great week of practice, and it kind of carried over.”
Windber, which also shut out North Star 42-0 last season, strung together 28 first half points, including three consecutive touchdown drives in the second quarter.
The Ramblers utilized seven different ball carriers and rushed for 379 yards against an overwhelmed North Star run defense.
A 53-yard touchdown drive on Windber’s first possession was capped by sophomore John Shuster’s 2-yard plunge, which gave the Ramblers a 7-0 lead.
Shuster provided 119 yards rushing on 13 carries, including touchdown runs from 2 and 4 yards out.
Junior Dylan Tomlinson gashed the Cougars for 138 yards on six carries, including a 69-yard burst which gave the Ramblers a 13-0 lead just 21 seconds into the second quarter.
Tomlinson also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aiden Gray, who completed 5 of 14 passes for 81 yards with two interceptions, late in the third quarter.
“We’ve got a bunch of capable guys,” said Grohal about his rushing attack. “Dylan Tomlinson’s been kind of quiet, but we know what type of player he is, and he had a great game tonight…If they’re trying to take something away from us, we have something else to go to. I think we’re a little bit more diverse than we were last year and in the last couple of years.”
Senior Aaron Willis, who also intercepted a pass on North Star’s opening drive, rushed two times for 62 yards, both touchdown scores, one being a 53-yard sprint to increase Windber’s lead to 19-0. Tomlinson ran in the two-point conversion to make it 21-0 with a little over nine minutes to play in the first half.
Despite the Cougars forcing three turnovers, their young offense once again struggled against one of the top tier defenses in the WestPAC.
Senior running back Ty Maluchnik rushed for just three yards on 10 carries, including four where he was dropped almost immediately in the backfield.
Freshman quarterback Connor Yoder, who went 9 of 15 for 50 yards with an interception, continues to try to mature in an offense still trying to find a rhythm.
“For a freshman quarterback to go in and carry the load the way he is, his development is going well,” said North Star coach Bob Landis. “We have a lot of work to do, but we have an opportunity next week to play up at Blacklick. That’s an opportunity to get better this week and a chance to go up there and win a football game next Friday.”
Windber (5-1) hosts Portage, a team that will be coming off a 30-0 setback at the hands of Berlin, next Friday.
“The kids are hungry, and they’re excited to play Portage,” said Grohal. “Windber, Portage is a huge game for us and I’m sure it is for those guys, too. It’s probably our last regular season home game of the year, so it’ll be exciting.”
North Star (1-5) will pay a visit to winless Blacklick Valley in hopes of securing its second win.