UNION TWP. | Jacob Wasz returned to the backfield for Wheeler on Friday night, and the Bearcats returned to the winning side of the ledger.
Wasz, who missed last week’s game because of a concussion, scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help Wheeler to a 27-19 win over River Forest in Greater South Shore Conference action.
“We knew that he was a difference-maker for us as a sophomore, and to see him on the field, he just has special talent out there that adds a lot to the offense,” Wheeler coach Tony Klimczak said.
The win was Wheeler’s eighth straight over the Ingots.
Wasz scored from three yards out to put the Bearcats up 20-13 with 9:41 to play. The Bearcats (2-4, 2-2 GSSC) started that drive from the River Forest 42-yard line after a fake punt resulted in an incomplete pass.
Three of Wheeler’s four scoring drives started in River Forest territory.
“Any time you can get good field position, and you get the ball a lot, good things are going to happen,” Klimczak said. “Our defense held very well and gave us a lot of opportunities.”
Wasz’s second score of the quarter came with 1:40 to go and put the Bearcats ahead 27-13. Wasz finished with 66 yards on nine carries.
Malachi Sala scored all three touchdowns for the Ingots (4-2, 3-1 GSSC). He had two rushing touchdowns, including a 7-yard reverse in the third quarter to get River Forest within one at 14-13, and he also had a receiving touchdown.
Sala finished with 158 yards of total offense. The Ingots had 213-195 edge in total yards.
Wheeler’s Riley Smith kept the ball on an option play and went 58 yards for a score to put the Bearcats in front 14-7 late in the second quarter.
Smith rushed for 99 yards on 22 carries from the quarterback position.
“Riley did an amazing job reading the option today,” Klimczak said. “He decided he wanted the ball in his hands and that’s what the reads gave him. He’s very effective running it.”
After a scoreless opening quarter, Smith opened the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chad Christy early in the second quarter. The score capped a seven-play drive that started at the Ingot 33-yard line after a River Forest punt went 14 yards.
Sala came in at quarterback after Brandon Laas was injured, and he took an option keeper 60 yards for a score. He started running down the right sideline and crossed the field to score in the front-left corner of the end zone.