By DAVE HANNEMAN
WHITEHOUSE — Emmanuel Mogolu was hoping to run some clock.
Eighty yards later he was running across the goal line.
“Yeah I was trying a little bit to run the clock,” said Mogolu, Findlay High’s junior running back. “But the O-line did a great job blocking today, I just cut off the right side, pushed through and got the yards I needed.”
That and then some.
Mogulu’s 80-yard touchdown run with nine seconds left on the clock gave Findlay a 33-14 halftime lead and Grant McKinnis’ third field goal of the game and some tough fourth-quarter defense proved just enough as Findlay opened its 2014 football season by holding off Anthony Wayne 36-28 Friday night.
Mogolu also scored on 3- and 31-yard runs, McKinnis connected on two 32-yard field goals and one from 37 yards and Grant Niswander scored on a 51-yard catch and run play as Findlay opened the season on a winning note for the fifth straight season.
Senior quarterback Brandon Muehl completed 22 of 45 passes for 234 yards with one interception.
The two teams combined for over 900 yards of total offense.
“A lot of offensive punches were thrown out there by both teams. You saw a lot of athleticism on both sides of the ball,” said Findlay High coach Mark Ritzler.
Sam McGhee and Desmond Limo picked off interceptions, Quinton Manns came up with a key fumble recovery, Mogolu had two sacks and Findlay’s defense stopped Anthony Wayne’s final drive with 1:32 left to come away with the win.
“We made a couple of more plays. That was it,” Ritzler said. “We made a couple of more plays on defense.”
Ritzler wanted a quicker and faster pace on offense this season and the start was all he hoped for.
Findlay settled for McKinnis’ 32-yard field goal after a quick 7-play, 53-yard opening drive stalled on Anthony Wayne’s 15-yard line. When sophomore quarterback Isaac Smith could not get the handle on Anthony Wayne’s first snap from scrimmage, Mann’s recovered at the 3 and Mogolu bulled in on the first play.
Less than three minutes into the game, Findlay led 9-0.
Defensively, though, Findlay was unable to keep Anthony Wayne’s offense on the sidelines. Steven Dirkel, a junior speedster for the Generals, raced 51 yards for one score after it appeared Findlay had him wrapped up near midfield. On Anthony Wayne’s next drive, the Generals converted four straight third-down situations during an 80-yard march that trimmed the deficit to 16-14.
Anthony Wayne’s Jammar Allen hauled in a 37-yard TD pass on a 4th-and-long call early in the third quarter and the Generals cut it to 33-28 when Dirkel (9 carries, 153 yards) raced 86 yards on a jet sweep midway through the third period.
“Gosh dang, I look up at the scoreboard, there’s a quarter and a half left to play and they’re right on our heels,” Ritzler said. “They kept the pressure on us both sides of the field all night. But we were able to scratch and claw and most keep them off the field that last quarter and a half.”
Niswander (125 yards) and Joe Hammond (95 yards) caught 10 passes each for Findlay. Limo, Manns, Austin Woessner, Jake Block and Jose Ochoa (2) had minus-yardage tackles to lead the defense.
Findlay plays its home-opener next Friday when the Trojans host Grove City.
“It’s a heck of a lot better walking off being 1-0 than it is being 0-1,” Ritzler said. “Finding a way to hang on and win this game is going to do a lot for us. Listen to those guys. They are fired up right now, they are ready to go.
“We talked last year about how an early-season loss kind of set things up. Hopefully we’ll see if a close, early-season win can do that too.”
Findlay 16 17 3 0 — 36
Anthony Wayne 14 0 14 0 — 28
FIN — FG McKinniss 32
FIN — Mogolu 2 run (run failed)
AW — Dirkel 51 run (Cardinal kick)
FIN — Niswander 52 pass from Muehl (McKinniss kick)
AW — Meyers 30 pass from Smith (Cardinal kick)
FIN — FG McKinniss 32
FIN — Mogolu 31 run (McKinniss kick)
FIN — Mogelu 80 run (McKinniss kick)
AW — Allen 26 pass from Smith (Cardinal kick)
AW — Zirkel 86 run (Cardinal kick)
FIN — FG McKinniss 38
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