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During the off season Midway head coach Craig Moser knew this year his Green Waves had to get more production out of their running game than they did in 2009.
“We worked hard on the running game during the off season and preseason,” Moser said. “We had one back in Aaron Collins that we knew we could count on and we also moved senior Larry Risner to the backfield as more of a fullback type. We’ve also put sophomores Hayden Boone and Jacob Miller into game situations more often to got them some experience.”
All the work with the running backs began to pay off Friday night in the season opener against Wartburg. Midway lost the game 28-14 to the Bulldogs, but did put up some decent numbers on the ground.
The numbers weren't as gaudy as some of the past seasons when the Green waves averaged nearly 300 yards per game, but 115 yards on 24 carries Friday against Wartburg was enough to keep Midway’s and Moser’s hopes up.
“The problem in this game was all the drops we had,” Moser said. “I think if we can put everything together we’ll be fine.”
Second year starter and junior quarterback Thomas Viar was only 6 of 30 for 57 yards, but he did have one touchdown pass to Dillon Davidson. The problem was Midway counted 14 of Viar’s 24 incomplete passes that could have been caught.
Early on against Wartburg nothing appeared to be going very good at all for Midway.
The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and led the 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Wartburg took the opening kickoff and drove 94 yards in 11 plays for the first points of the game. Quarterback Rusty Phillips hit Wesley Melhorn for 25 yards for the touchdown.
After holding Midway to three plays and a punt, the Bulldogs were off again driving 69 yards in 10 plays for another TD.
The PAT was no good.
Phillips slipped in from the one for the touchdown. Phillips hit Adam Spence for the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead with 4:26 left in the opening quarter. Phillips also hit Spence for a 16-yard pass in the drive and he scrambled for a 15-yard run.
Midway did rally this time as the Green Waves used 11 plays to drive 65 yards for their first touchdown of the season.
Viar’s passing was big in the drive as he opened the series with a 16-yard pass to Boone and he ended the drive with a 16-yard pass to Davidson.
Midway’s conversion was no good.
The Bulldogs mounted another drive after the kickoff that went all the way to the nine before Midway linebacker Jacob Shanahan picked off a short Phillips pass.
The Green Waves then used almost the rest of the quarter to tie the game at 14.
From the nine, Midway drove 91 yards in 16 plays to tie the game. Risner had two carries for 10 yards. Boone had two runs for nine yards. Viar ran three times for 22 yards while Miller had a run for 10 yards and Collins had a run for seven yards.
Viar hit Kaleb Butler for a 15-yard pickup and the last play would see Viar find Risner over the middle for seven yards and the score.
Collins ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
Although they had some momentum, Midway’s second half would not go as well as the second quarter. They did reach the Wartburg red zone on the first possession, but ran out of downs after four incomplete passes. Later in the third and early fourth quarter, Midway pushed to the Wartburg 28, but again ran out of downs after three incomplete passes.
Wartburg scored quickly on their second possession of the half when Phillips scooted in from 36 yards away.
The Bulldogs put the game away early in the fourth quarter when Monte Branstetter broke a couple of tackles and scored from 17 yards out.
Risner had 10 carries for 63 yards and Viar ran 11 times for 44 yards to lead the Green Waves. Davidson caught three of the six completions for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Phillips had a huge night for the Bulldogs as he completed 14 of 25 passes for 149 yards.
Midway (0-1) will play their first District 3-A game of the year Friday when they visit Harriman (0-1).