State-ranked Annawan-Wethersfield escapes with 36-35 overtime win against Cougars

Facing a 35-28 deficit in overtime, Annawan-Wethersfield head coach Brandon Johnston told his team what was about to take place.

“We told the kids as soon as they (Mid-County) scored and we came to the sidelines, here’s how it’s going to happen — we’re going to score and we’re going to go for two,” Johnston said. “And we’re going to win the game. We’re confident our kids can make plays. There was no hesitation there.”

The Titans — ranked No. 4 in the latest Class 1A poll — scored a touchdown on fourth-and-7 with a pass from Coltin Quagliano to Brendon Shaw to pull within 35-34. The same duo hooked up again on the two-point conversion pass and the Titans escaped with a thrilling 36-35 win over the Cougars at Bill Adams Field.

On Senior Night in Oneida, the Cougars twice erased two-touchdown deficits to force overtime with the game tied 28-all. On the first play of OT, Mid-County’s Bret Woodside took an option pitch and scampered 10 yards to give the Cougars their first lead of the night. Nathan Whitman booted the PAT to put M-C on top 35-28.

Mid-County’s defense limited A-W to three yards on its first three plays in overtime, but the Quagliano-to-Shaw connection struck twice as the Titans — now 7-1 overall — clinched at least a share of the Lincoln Trail Conference title with a 6-0 mark.

“We just had to make one more play tonight and sometimes that’s what it takes,” Johnston said.

It was an ominous start for Mid-County as the Cougars fumbled the ball away three times in the first six minutes and A-W turned the mistakes into a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard Quagliano run and 38-yard fumble return by Ben Buresh.

Second quarter scoring runs by Jason Clark and Woodside pulled the Cougars within 21-13 at the half.

Quagliano — a freshman subbing for injured starting QB Zac VanOpdorp — raced 35 yards for his second rushing touchdown to make it 28-13 Titans with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter.

Down again by double digits, Mid-County answered the call on both sides of the ball.

“Our seniors,” Mid-County head coach Gary Denhart said regarding the key to his team’s rally. “Last week (at Princeville) we had such good leadership and we didn’t respond in the second half. Tonight we did.”

The Cougars pulled even on 3-yard rushing touchdowns from Clark and Woodside — the latter coming with 8:21 left in the game. After Woodside’s score made it 28-26, M-C QB Jacob Varner tallied the two-point conversion to tie the game.

A-W turned it over on the ensuing possession as M-C’s Gunner Johnston plucked a Quagliano fumble out of the air in Titan territory, but the Cougars turned the ball over on downs at the A-W 35. Both teams had one more possession in regulation, but came up empty.

Mid-County’s offensive leaders were Woodside with 114 yards on 20 carries, Clark with 79 yards on 17 attempts and Varner with 103 passing yards. Defensive leaders were Varner with nine tackles, Lucas Cruz with eight tackles and Parker Taylor with seven stops.

The Cougars fall to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the LTC. 

“Tip your cap to Mid-County. They are very well coached, great kids and they really played hard,” Johnston said of the Cougars. “We thought they were a pretty good team coming in and still think so.”

Mid-County’s playoff hopes hinge on Friday’s trip to Wyoming. Both the Cougars and host Stark County enter that game with 4-4 records — the winner keeps playing, the loser goes home.

“We get to play,” Denhart said. “There are people that know they’re done — we’re not done.”