Wiesbaden downs Patch in D-I opener
Wiesbaden's CJ Pridgen avoids Patch's Collin Higgins for a gain Friday in football action in Wiesbaden, Germany. Pridgen scored the Warriors' first touchdown in their 21-12 win over the Panthers.
Stars and Stripes
WIESBADEN, Germany --- The home crowd had plenty to cheer about Friday night as Wiesbaden hung on to defeat Patch, 21-12, during the first DODDS-Europe Division I football pairing of the season.
With a little over 8 minutes left in the game and trailing by two points, Patch’s Carter Murray came up with a clutch pick to give the Panthers a chance to take the lead.
That’s when the Friday the 13th bad luck cliché seemingly struck the Panthers, runners-up to Ramstein in last year’s championship game. After two recovered fumbles and a bad snap on their short-lived drive, Patch attempted a fake punt from their own 32-yard line.
The result was another fumble, which Wiesbaden recovered at the Patch 8-yard-line.
Daivon Poole, who had seven carries for 87 yards on the day, pounded it in to widen the Wiesbaden lead.
After penalties let John Arnold off the hook for kicking a couple of extra point attempts wide, Arnold was able to chip the third attempt through the uprights. It gave the Warriors a two-score lead with five minutes left on the clock.
A comeback was too much for Patch, which relies on a wishbone formation and a steady attack of running plays. The Panthers weren’t able to muster enough passing mojo to move the ball downfield quickly.
Wiesbaden never trailed as it also capitalized on a first-quarter Patch fumble that led to quarterback Reymoi Lewis connecting with CJ Pridgen on a 37-yard touchdown pass on the Warriors first possession. Pridgen finished with three catches for 80 yards and also notched a 15-yard run.
It looked like the teams would head into halftime with a 7-6 Wiesbaden lead after Patch’s Dalton Stack rushed for one of his two touchdowns on the day.
Lewis came through for the Warriors once more, though - this time with his legs - as he found an opening and scrambled for a 28-yard touchdown as time expired.
“It’s always that hype moment that builds the team up,” Lewis said about the run.
The former tight-end-turned-QB finished the day with 47 yards rushing on four carries and went 5 for 8 through the air for 120 yards.
“They crushed us last year and this is an amazing feeling, especially under the Friday night lights,” said Lewis, who credited his offensive line for stepping up.
Wiesbaden defensive end Johnathan Skeesick, who led the Warriors with eight tackles, knew the wishbone would present his unit with challenges, but said he’s pleased with the way they handled them.
“I’m proud for us to be able to take these big boys and punch them in the mouth,” Skeesick said.
Other defensive standouts for the Warriors were Dequan Reed and Brett Wisti, who finished with seven tackles each, and Jason Closs, who had an interception.
Despite the loss, the Panthers say they need to correct simple mistakes and bad snaps and they’ll be ready and stronger next week.
“We will bounce back,” said Stack. “I believe in my team.”
Wiesbaden head coach Steve Jewell saw the game as a learning tool for his players.
“We played well enough to win, but not well enough to be overly happy,” he said.