WAVERLY — Waverly-Shell Rock wasn’t impressed with a 14-6 halftime lead over Independence Friday in its Class 3A, District 3 opener.
So, the 10th-ranked Go-Hawks (3-0, 1-0) turned up the defensive intensity and dominated the final two quarters for a 49-13 win over Independence (1-3, 0-1).
W-SR built a 14-0 lead late in the first half on a six-yard run by Gabriel Santoiemma and Jordan Gayer’s eight-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Luke Velky.
But when the Mustangs’ Noah Gall picked off a pass and Independence turned it into a TD pass from Logan Schmitt to Zach Snyder in the final minute of the half, W-SR had just a one-score lead at the break.
“We did not come out and start as fast as we wanted to,” Go-Hawks’ senior tight end Gayer said. “We did not play that well and we talked at halftime and made the right adjustments.”
W-SR’s defense set the tone to start the second half. After holding Indee on three downs, the Go-Hawks pounced on a muffed punt deep in their own territory and quickly converted that into points.
Gabriel Santoiemma bulled in from 17 yards out and suddenly the home team had its two-touchdown lead back.
“We came out with more energy and we played harder and faster,” Gayer said. “We knew they had a good running quarterback (Logan Schmitt) and we just had to focus on stopping him.”
Schmitt threw for 233 yards and two scores, but managed just four rushing yards on 19 attempts against the inspired W-SR run defense.
And as the Go-Hawks continued to get stops, the offense continued to gain momentum.
“We played so much faster in the second half and that offensive line just started opening great holes,” added Gayer.
“We knew we just had to be patient and we would find something that worked,” Go-Hawks coach Mark Hubbard said. “I think our special teams played very well and came up with some big plays.
“I credit Independence for coming in with a great game plan, and I credit our players for responding and coming out playing faster and harder in the second half.”
W-SR ran off 21 unanswered points in the third quarter for a 35-6 advantage.
Mustangs wideout Kenyon Hosch snuck behind a blitzing corner for a reception and raced untouched for 80 yards for Independence, but the Go-Hawks kept coming and tacked on two more scores to seal the outcome.
Waverly-S.R. 49, Independence 13
Independence 0 6 0 7 — 13
Waverly-S.R. 7 7 2114 — 49
W-SR — Gabriel Santoiemma 6 run (Brandon Hinders kick)
W-SR — Jordan Gayer 8 pass from Luke Velky (Hinders kick)
Ind — Zach Snyder 10 pass from Logan Schmitt (run failed)
W-SR — Santoiemma 17 run (Hinders kick)
W-SR — Velky 25 run (Hinders kick)
W-SR — Gayer 18 pass from Velky (Hinders kick)
Ind — Kenyon Hosch 80 pass from Schmitt (Sean Geertsema kick)
W-SR — Ian Heise 5 run (Hinders kick)
W-SR — Josh Halverson 10 pass from Velky (Hinders kick)
First downs 9 12
Rushes-yards 32-33 33-234
Passing yards 233 109
Comp-att-int. 12-30-0 11-17-1
Return yards 88 117
Punts-avg. 7-28.4 3-37.0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-0
Penalties-yards 2-20 6-60
INDEPENDENCE — Logan Schmitt 19-4, Noah Gall 4-2, Seth House 7-22, Tristan Cordes 2-5.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — Luke Velky 14-99, Gabriel Santoiemma 13-103, Jack Seward 1-7, Ian Heise 1-5, Ben Hemer 2-11, Ryan Willis 1-4, Brady Leonard 1-5.
INDEPENDENCE — Schmitt 12-30-2, 233 yards.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — Velky 11-17-3, 109 yards.
INDEPENDENCE — Zach Snyder 6-97, Schmitt 1-minus 4, Kenyon Hosch 3-94, Seth House 2-36.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — Jordan Downing 2-13, Josh Halverson 1-10, Jordan Gayer 2-26, Willis 3-30, Seward 3-30.