Seeing Union Grove for a second time posed no problem at all for Whitewater in Friday’s Region 4-AAAAA play-in game at Union Grove.
Quarterback Jay Ashley was nearly flawless and the Whitewater defense stymied Union Grove all night in a 36-13 win, giving the Wildcats (7-3) a spot in the state playoffs for the third time in four years. Whitewater improved to 11-0 all time against Henry County Schools.
“We’re just progressing, all of us, and getting better,” said Ashley, who passed for 144 yards and had a stretch of 10 straight completed passes in the first half. “It feels good. We knew that we weren’t where we wanted to be around week 6 or 7. We knew we had to change some stuff and I think that’s what we did.”
Ashley finished with three touchdown passes and added a rushing touchdown to put the game away.
The Whitewater defense did the rest, holding Union Grove to 19 total yards over the first three quarters before both teams put in their reserves.
The Wildcat defense allowed one first down in the first half, during which the Wolverines managed 15 total yards and punted on four of five offensive possessions. The other one ended in a safety after quarterback Jonathan Slade was penalized for intentional grounding from the end zone.
“It was great. The pre-snap reads helped us a lot,” said defensive lineman Matt Ogle. “What the coaches put together really helped us out, knowing what they were going to run before they snapped the ball. I thought they would switch it up a little bit, but nearly everything we saw, we saw in the first game as well.”
Christian Wafford added 83 rushing yards and Ryan May rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown for Whitewater.
“When we can get off the field and get it back to the offense, we’re pretty defense,” said Whitewater coach Amos McCreary. “I think we played defensively like we played early in the season. When you start playing well maybe we can go into next week thinking we’ve got a chance.”
The Wildcats took 10 plays to drive 56 yards to a score on the game’s opening possession, the points coming on a 26-yard pass from Ashley to Luke Allen down the middle.
On their next possession, Ogle got behind the Union Grove defense and hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass, capping another 10-play drive in the first quarter.
Whitewater went up 20-0 with 4:42 left in the half on Ashley’s third touchdown pass, a 19-yarder to Avery Roth, who grabbed the ball inside the 10-yard line and fought his way past the goal line. The score was made possible by a muffed punt, which Whitewater recovered at the Union Grove 25.
The safety made it 22-0.
Ashley added a 12-yard run and May a 20-yarder to push the lead to 36-0.
Jake Kaufman scored on a 4-yard run and connected with Ryan Atkins on a 16-yard touchdown pass to account for Union Grove’s two scores.
Whitewater 13 9 7 7 – 36
Union Grove 0 0 0 13 – 13
W – Luke Allen 26 pass from Jay Ashley (Liam Voigt kick)
W –Matt Ogle 18 pass from Ashley (kick failed)
W – Avery Roth 19 pass from Ashley (Voigt kick)
W – (UG’s Jonathan Slade intentional grounding in end zone)
W – Ashley 12 run (Voigt kick)
W – Ryan May 20 run (Voigt kick)
UG – Jake Kaufman 4 run (kick failed)
UG – Ryan Atkins 16 pass from Kaufman (Shawn Davis kick)