Wellington fought valiantly on Friday night against Clearwater, charging back from down double digits in the second half. However, it was too much Tanner Cash for Wellington as they fell 36-29 in overtime.
It was the first overtime appearance by Wellington since 2016.
Senior Berkeley Wright tried to it all for the Crusaders and nearly did. He willed them back into this one.
Cash drove the Indians down 40 yards for the first score and capped it off with a 5-yard run by Brock Toothaker to give Clearwater the early lead.
Penalties and miscues continued to stunt the Wellington progress. An illegal snap killed one drive and on the ensuing possession, they fumbled on fourth down to give the ball back to Clearwater.
Cash drove his team down on a nice pass to Lane Pierce to set it up in the Crusader red zone. He would run it for a 3-yard scamper to make it 17-0 with 7:23 to go in the second quarter.
That’s when the come come back began for the Crusaders.
On a third-and-goal from the Clearwater 2-yard line, Wright kept the ball on a read optin right up the middle for the first score of the night, cutting deficit to 17-7 with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
Wellington trailed 17-7 at the break.
The Crusaders would get another back midway through the third quarter as Wright found Tracy Rusk over the middle for a 19-yard completion to get some momentum going their way.
Junior Dustyn Shchettler made it 17-14 when he shot through the left side of the line for a 57-yard touchdown run in the middle of the third quarter.
Clearwater took a 23-14 lead and would once again push it to 29-21 with 4:36 remaining in the fourth it was Wright who would lead the Crusaders back.
Wright marched Welling down the field in less than two minutes to score a diving touchdown to bring them within 29-27 with 2:27 remaining. The drive was fueled a strike from Berkeley to Trenton Bannister for 30 yards.
Wellington started in a bunch formation, then split multiple people both sides, trying to confuse the Clearwater defense. After sending a man in motion, creating misdirection for the defense, Wright found Jakob Lira wide in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Unfortunately, in overtime penalties bit the Crusaders once again. After Clearwater scored on their first possession, Wellington was hit with a block in the back play that negated a run down to the 2-yard line. Then, on fourth down, they were hit with a delay of game penalty, pushing the fourth and goal opportunity back to the 20-yard line.
A last chance heave to the end zone was knocked down, ending the hopes of a complete come back.
Wellington drops to 0-1 on the season but there is no quit in this team. Their schedule does not get any easier as they travel to defending Class 3A State Champion, Andale on Friday night.
Clearwater 7;10;6;6;7; - 36
Wellington 0;7;7;15;0 - 29
1Q CW 5-yard TD run by Toothaker (PAT good) 2:10
2Q CW 35-yard FG by Connor Walcher 10:26
2Q CW 3-yard TD run by Cash (PAT good) 7:23
2Q WEL 2-yard TD run by Berkeley Wright (PAT good) 3:24
3Q WEL 57-yard TD run by Schettler (PAT good) 6:56
3Q CW 1-yard TD Run by Cash (PAT no good) 0:36
4Q WEL 47-yard TD pass from Wright to Tate (PAT good) 11:34
4Q CW 27-yard Punt Return for a TD by Cash (4:36)
4Q WEL 5-yard TD run by Wright (2PAT good) 2:27
OT CW 6-yard TD run by Cash (PAT good)