Paw Paw dominates up front to end Edwardsburg streak

Published 4:45 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — Paw Paw controlled the line of scrimmage and used big plays to hand Edwardsburg a 35-0 Wolverine Conference loss Friday at Leo Hoffman Field on Parent’s Night.

It was the Eddies’ first loss in the Wolverine in 43 games. Three Rivers was the last league school to defeat Edwardsburg (21-18) back in 2017.

Edwardsburg falls to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in conference games.

“Paw Paw won the battle up front. It’s no secret that the team that wins the line of scrimmage is the one that’s gonna win the ballgame. We just couldn’t do anything tonight,” said Edwardsburg Coach Dan Purlee. “I tip my hat to them [Paw Paw]. They are a good football team and we have to be better.”

Paw Paw, now 6-0 overall and 4-0 in league games, built themselves a 21-0 lead on Edwardsburg after one quarter. Dominic Hernandez returned an interception 32 yards for the Red Wolves’ first score of the night.

The other two scores for Paw Paw in the opening stanza came on the ground with Ben Miller racing 63 yards to pay dirt and PJ DeYoung plunging over Edwardsburg’s goal line from three yards out.

Troy Vandenberg was successful on all five PATs on the night.

The 5-7, 195-pound DeYoung raced 32 yards around left end with 8:33 left in the second quarter for Paw Paw’s final score of the half and a 28-0 cushion.

Paw Paw held Edwardsburg to just two first downs in the opening half.

DeYoung, who rushed 17 times for 95 yards and three TDs, bounced off right tackle and sprinted untouched into the end zone for a 19-yard TD with 5:04 left in the third. The final score by DeYoung capped off an 84-yard drive for Paw Paw that consumed over six minutes off the clock.

“That was a really key possession for us right there,” said Paw Paw coach Dennis Strey.

Miller led Paw Paw’s T-Formation with 18 attempts for 166 yards and one TD. Junior Bryson Newell tacked on eight carries for 35 yards.

“We have a good set of skill kids on this team,” Strey said.

Paw Paw did a nice job controlling the game clock with 49 rushing attempts for 304 yards. The Red Wolves owned a 15-7 advantage in first downs.

Strey was pleased with the performance of his team’s offensive line, which includes his son Darrin Strey, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound Division I recruit, along with Austin George at right guard, center Gavin Turk, Julian Hernandez at left guard, Braylon Kennedy at left tackle and tight ends Nate LaMere and Vandenberg.

“We started off the game with getting a pick six. Edwardsburg did something that’s uncharacteristic of them by throwing a pass there and our defense was ready for it,” he said. “That was a huge play and then our offense had those early scores as well.”

The Red Wolves’ junior quarterback Gunnar Goodell completed one pass for 25 yards. Paw Paw finished with 345 yards of total offense.

Defensively, the Red Wolves held the Eddies’ Wing-T offense to just 27 yards rushing in 22 attempts.

Keegan Parsons paced the Eddies with four carries for 16 yards.

Edwardsburg quarterback Ezekial Pegura attempted just one pass which fell incomplete.

Edwardsburg was without junior tailback Carson Cebra, who sat out the contest with a concussion. The Eddies have had to rely on its depth after injuries to key personnel forced head coach Dan Purlee to move people around on both sides of the ball.

“It’s tough to lose a kid like Cebra because he’s a real physical presence for us out there,” he said.

Also, currently out for Edwardsburg are Grant Griffith and Elliott Roseberry.

Parsons and Braden Lundgren led Edwardsburg defensively with eight tackles each, while Zac Zache produced six, Caiden Miller and Larson Fessenden added five each and Grady Ostrander and Parker Hankins had four apiece.

Edwardsburg visits Niles next week for another key league contest at 7 p.m.