Walendzak sets record


PERRYSBURG — It came down to the play of Perrysburg 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior Connor Walendzak on both sides of the ball Friday night on Widdel Field.

First, Walendzak ran for the winning seven-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Yellow Jackets a one touchdown lead over visiting St. John’s.

Then, on fourth down and four at the Perrysburg 14, Walendzak made the game-saving tackle on 6-0, 240-pound sophomore running back Aaron Lovett to preserve a 48-41 victory.

The Jackets’ defensive stand to keep the Titans out of the end zone in overtime came after St. John’s had rallied to score 34 second half points.

“The defense was awesome,” Perrysburg coach Dirk Conner said. “We had to have it. I’m real proud of those guys.

“They went through a real rough second half, and there was still enough in them to finish it off.

“I’m proud of our kids resolve and the way they pressed forward. It’s nice moving forward to know we can win when it is clutch time,” Conner continued.

The game was high scoring, but the hitting could still be heard above the noise made by a large crowd at Steinecker Stadium.

“There was no doubt it was physical on both sides,” Conner said. “There were two physical football teams right there.”

Walendzak added, “They are a real physical team. They play very good defense, so we know we are going to have to work our butts off to earn what we have got.

“Putting up 48 points, we got the job done, you know. We gave up 41 but at the end of the day, we ended up getting the best of them. Boy was that a battle. Back and forth. That was a very fun football game.”

Perrysburg improves to 2-1 heading into Northern Lakes League play next Friday while St. John’s falls to 0-3, all losses coming by less than a touchdown.

Walendzak scored three touchdowns, including runs of three and four yards, but more importantly, he ran for 145 yards on 24 carries, becoming Perrysburg’s all-time career rushing leader.

Walendzak needed 100 yards to pass Gus Zimmerly, who ran for 3,399 yards during his career at Perrysburg. Walendzak now stands at 3,444 yards with six games remaining.

“That means the world to me after growing up watching those Perrysburg games,” Walendzak said. “Watching Gus — he was an outstanding player, so to be able to take that from him, that is a very honorable thing to have.

“When you’re watching all the Perrysburg players growing up, you don’t think about it and then you just keep working, and it comes with hard work.”

Walendzak says he doesn’t deserve all the credit — the big boys up front are a big reason why he now has the record.

“Again, shout out to all the linemen I’ve had now and in the past. They’ve worked their butts off for me, so all the credit goes to them,” Walendzak said.

Coach Conner added, “Congratulations to him — you kind of lose track of him in that kind of game.

“There is no one whose name you would want associated with your school on the record board more than Connor Walendzak, and to know he’s going to be up there for a long, long time to come.

“It makes me happy for him, but also for our school and our program. Connor is a great representation of what we want.”

The game saw 810 yards of total offense, including 207 yards passing by Perrysburg senior quarterback T.J. Takats, who was 12-for-25 with three touchdowns. Takats also ran for 54 yards on 13 carries.

Takats threw a nine-yard TD pass to Walendzak, a 53-yard scoring strike to junior receiver Gavin Fenneken, a 31-yard TD pass to senior receiver Jack Borer, and a 22-yarder to junior receiver Sam Lawanson.

Borer caught five passes for 84 yards and Fenneken caught two passes for 65 yards. On his TD reception, Fenneken made a circus catch at the St. John’s 35 and spun out of two tackles before getting past the defense and running untouched into the end zone.

However, no Takats’ pass was more important than the two-point conversion pass he threw to Borer with 1:56 remaining to tie the game at 41 and send it into overtime.

St. John’s had to mount a comeback to get it there. In the second quarter Perrysburg led 14-0 and was at the St. John’s 10-yard line when a loose ball was recovered by St. John’s junior defensive end Colin Carroll.

On the ensuing first play, Lichtenberg threw an 80-yard strike to senior receiver Matty Swift to put the Titans on the board with 4:58 remaining in the first half.

In the third quarter, Lichtenberg threw two more TD passes to Swift, from four-yard and 11-yards, and Lichtenberg opened the fourth quarter scoring on a 15-yard run.

After the Titans had struggled offensively in the first half, St. John’s coach Larry McDaniel was pleased that Lichtenberg was finally able to get the offense moving.

“That was great to see. We had struggled a little bit up to that point, and then we really in the second half was the kind of offense we hope to have for the remainder of the season,” McDaniel said.

“Those kids did a heck of a job. They came out and did some real good things.”

Late in the game, Lichtenberg followed by throwing a 17-yard TD pass to senior receiver Tommy Gallagher and the St. John’s QB ran for a five-yard TD with 3:03 remaining, but the PAT was blocked, keeping it a one-possession game at 41-33, but the Titans led.

That’s when Takats mounted a four-play, 60-yard scoring drive to tie the game, which included a 19-yard pass to Fenneken, a 17-yard Takats run, and two-yard run by Walendzak, and the 22-yard TD pass to Lawanson.

St. John’s still had under two minutes to put the game away in regulation, but a Lichtenberg pass was intercepted by Perrysburg sophomore linebacker Joseph Seney.

Lichtenberg completed 12-of-19 passes for 185 yards and he ran for 119 yards on 19 carries. Lovett ran for 88 yards on 21 carries, Swift caught four passes for 185 yards, and Gallagher caught five passes for 53 yards.

St. John’s 6-3, 250-pound senior defensive end Ralph Worthy was a thorn in Perrysburg’s side with sack and tackle for loss.

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