CAMANCHE — A 94-yard fumble return for a touchdown by West Liberty’s Kory Wiele midway through the second quarter was the momentum changer the Camanche Indians didn’t want to see as they lost a hard-fought game, 35-27, against the visiting West Liberty Comets on Friday night.

The loss, their 33rd in a row, dropped the Indians to 0-5, 0-3 in Class 2A District 5.

“That’s a 14-point swing that’s just tough to overcome.” Camanche coach Steve Dougherty said about the fumble return. “ You get that and the big pass plays that we seem to just give up, teams know it and they’re always taking a shot for it, and we keep giving it up”

With the score tied 7-7 and 9 minutes left in the second quarter, the Indians were 6 yards away from taking the lead, but Wiele stripped Camanche’s Brad Maxwell at the line of scrimmage and rumbled 94 yards to put the Comets up 14-7 with 8:50 to go in the half.

The Indians bounced right back as Moritz Mueller hooked up with Brett Johnson on a 61-yard catch and run to tie it up again at 14-14 with just 2:18 to go before halftime. But the quick-strike offense for West Liberty needed just 45 seconds to cover 73 yards, with the big play a Mason Garcia 54-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Smith with only 1:24 remaining on the clock as the Comets carried the 21-14 lead to the half.

“Our offensive line did an outstanding job tonight. We’ve been looking to find the right combination of five guys and we definitely have it right now; it’s just too bad that big plays here and there just drown you” Dougherty said.

West Liberty came out strong in the second half , scoring twice for a 35-14 lead.

“Our defense is designed to get pressure up front and we didn’t do that tonight and couldn’t get pressure on them at all, as we couldn’t get into the quarterback’s face,” Dougherty said.

The Indians didn’t give up. They turned an 11-play, 75-yard drive into a last-second score to end the third quarter as Mike Sullens scored for the second time on the night with a 5-yard gallop into the end zone to make it 35-21.

Brad Maxwell capped the short drive with a 1-yard plunge as the Indians trailed just 35-27 with 6:59 to go in the game.

After forcing the Comets to punt, the Indians had the ball with 5:41 left in the fourth and the ball at West Liberty’s 48-yard line. Camanche continued to run right through the Comets defense, as it had done for most of the night. It got down to the 7-yard line but was stopped on a fourth-and-3 play with 2:27 left. The Indians defense once again held and forced a punt that Sullens mishandled, and the Comets jumped on it with 1:30 showing on the clock.

Scoring by quarters

West Liberty 8 13 14 0 — 35

Camanche 7 7 7 6 — 27

C — Mike Sullens 6 yard run (Mueller kick) 6:52

WL — Adrian Moran 16 yard run (2-point pass) 0:11

WL — Kory Wiele 94 yard fumble return (XP missed) 8:50

C — Moritz Mueller 61 yard pass to Brett Johnson (Mueller kick) 2:18

WL — Mason Garcia 54 yard pass to Nathan Smith (Villarreal kick) 1:24

WL — Nathan Smith 20 yard run (XP missed) 8:37

WL — Mason Garcia 80 yard pass to Jonathan Lopez (2-point pass) 4:33

C — Mike Sullens 5 yard run (Mueller kick) 0:00

C — Brad Maxwell 1 yard run (XP missed) 6:59

Individual statistics

RUSHING — West Liberty, Nathan Smith 3-15, Jonathan Lopez 1-6, Adrian Moran 7-44, Mason Garcia 7- -3, Kory Wiele 1-4. Camanche, Mike Sullens 25-87, Brad Maxwell 19-97, Brett Johnson 17-67, Moritz Mueller 2- -10.

PASSING — West Liberty, Mason Garcia 13-19 292 yards, Avery Meyers 0-1 0 yards. Camanche, Moritz Mueller 4-6 110 yards.

RECEIVING — West Liberty, Jonathan Lopez 4-125, Avery Myers 1-13, Kory Wiele 1-25, Adrian Moran 2-8, Nathan Smith 4-102, Dillon Christensen 1-19. Camanche, Brett Johnson 2-72, Taylor Grim 2-38.

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