The West Central Area/Ashby Knights fought back from an 18-0 halftime deficit to open their season with a 30-18 victory over Ottertail Central in Battle Lake on Saturday afternoon. 30-18. This was the first victory for the Knights over the Bulldogs since 2011.
“Really proud of how the boys responded to the adversity,” said WCA/Ashby Head Coach Nate Wood. “Down three scores, turned the ball over four times, it would have been easy to quit. They never gave up, however, and were able to come away with the win.”
OTC got it going early as they turned a Knight fumble into a six-play, 40-yard scoring drive, capped by a 10 yard TD run by Calvin Stueve to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead at 8:19 of the first quarter. Their two-point conversion try failed. The Knights again fumbled the ball and Brady VanErp recovered possession of the football at the WCA/Ashby 38 yard line. Seven plays later Drew Durbin plunged into the end zone for a one yard touchdown run. The two-point try once again failed and with 3:56 left in the opening quarter OTC led 12-0. The Bulldogs forced the Knights to punt on the following possession and then went 57 yards in 12 plays, resulting in a 10 yard TD pass from Tanner Arndt to Brady VanErp with 7:43 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs failed to convert the two-point conversion attempt and took their 18-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half belonged to the Knights as their defense forced a 3-and-out to start the half. WCA/Ashby scored on a 10-play, 72-yard drive at 6:30 of the third quarter when Anthony Sykora took the ball into the end zone from 5 yards out. Jaden Norby hauled in the two-point conversion pass from Evan Paulson, cutting the OTC lead to 18-8. A bad snap on a punt gave the Knights possession at the OTC 32 yard line and Sykora broke free for a 32-yard TD run on the very first play. He then scored the two-point conversion, bringing WCA/Ashby to within two points of OTC at 18-16 with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Knights defense force another OTC punt and then go 68-yards on 8 plays with Sykora scoring again, this time on a 16 yard run. His two-point conversion run put the score at 24-18 in favor of the visiting Knights.
Another OTC punt gave WCA/Ashby the ball at the Bulldogs 47 yard line. A 44 yard run by Sykora on the first play of the possession setup a 3-yard touchdown run by Jaden Norby, increasing the Knights lead to 30-18.
West Central Area/Ashby finished with 310 yards of offense, 76 passing and 234 rushing. Sykora led the Knights with 180 yards on 18 carries and Norby ran for 46 yards on 8 attempts. Jordan Lohse caught four passes for 50 yards and Paulson completed 10-of-20 passes on the day. Defensively, Hunter Norby had a team high 12 tackles and Lohse finished with 9. Cole Anderson had an interception.
For OTC, Arndt completed 13-of-18 passes for 129 yards with VanErp hauling in nine passes for 99 yards. Durbin led the ground attack with 64 yards on 18 carries. OTC had 247 yards of offense with 118 rushing yards and 129 yards through the air. Defensively, Arndt and Stueve each had interceptions, VanErp recovered a pair of fumbles and Durbin recorded 9 tackles.
WCA/Ashby will open their home season with a 6:00 p.m. game Friday against Crookston.