SYRACUSE – Momentum was Warsaw’s friend and Wawasee’s downfall Friday. 

The Class 6A No. 12 Tiger football team turned a close game into the first half into a rout in the second for a 49-16 win in a Northern Lakes Conference game at Wawasee.

In the process, Warsaw (6-1, 4-1 NLC) won the traveling ‘W’ trophy for the fourth straight season. 

“The communities are really close, and it’s a game that really means something to both communities,” said Warsaw coach Bart Curtis. “So it’s great to be taking that thing back home.”

There was a time in the first half when it looked like the trophy might belong to Wawasee. 

The Warriors (0-7, 0-7 NLC) marched down the field on the game’s first possession and scored on Brayden Johnson’s 39-yard field goal.

Warsaw answered with a forceful drive of its own, scoring on Josh West’s six-yard run to paydirt.

Wawasee fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and Warsaw recovered.

The Tigers took advantage of great field position, and a nine-yard dash by West made the score 14-3 in Warsaw’s favor.

However, the Warriors struck back when Evan Eshbach found Joshua Slabaugh for the eight-yard touchdown pass.

Warsaw again responded when Kane Dawson punched it in from one yard out to stake the Tigers to a 21-10 lead.

Wawasee again relied on its passig attack, and marched into Warsaw territory with momentum before Curtis called a timeout.

The Warriors muffed the snap on the next play, resulting in an 11-yard loss.

It was the play after that, though, that irreversibly changed the game.

Caden Silveus picked off a Wawasee pass and ran it back into Warrior territory.

“That was huge, because that was gonna make it 21-17 if (Wawasee) would have got it in (the end zone),” Curtis said. 

Just a few plays later, West found Wyatt Amiss in the end zone for the 15-yard touchdown. 

From there, it was all Warsaw. The Tigers came out roaring in the second half, piling on three touchdowns while stalling Wawasee’s drives.

The Warriors still hadn’t recovered from the costly interception.

“We gotta get a little time to throw,” said Wawasee coach Mike Eshbach. “It’s probably not the best throw in the world. 

“Sometimes our margin for error is just not very big, and you make a mistake like that, you lose momentum (and) they gain momentum.”

Warsaw rode its lead safely to victory, with the Warriors’ final score – a 20-yard strike from Eshbach to Dylan Hepler – coming as time expired.

Regardless of the loss, the Warriors remain determined.

“You just get back to the drawing board,” Eshbach said. “(Warsaw is) a good team.” 

Warsaw 49, Wawasee 16

War 14 14 21 0 49

Waw 3 7 0 6 6

War Waw

1st downs 28 18

Rushing yds 395 23

Passing yds 112 231

Comp-Att-Int 5-5-0 16-28-2

Total yds 507 254

Fumbles/lost 0/0 1/1

Penalties/yds 5/70 3/25

First Quarter

Waw – Brayden Johnson 39 field goal, 8:28

War ­– Josh West 6 run (Harrison Mevis kick), 3:17

War – West 9 run (Mevis kick), 1:49

Second Quarter

Waw ­– Joshua Slabaugh 8 pass from Evan Eshbach (Johnson kick), 7:56 

War ­– Kane Dawson 1 run (Mevis kick), 1:58

War – Wyatt Amiss 15 pass from West (Mevis kick), :30

Third Quarter

War ­– Bryce Garner 12 run (Mevis kick), 7:43

War – Juan Jaramillo 20 pass from West (Mevis kick), 2:33

War – West 8 run (Mevis kick), :41

Fourth Quarter

Waw ­– Dylan Hepler 20 pass from Eshbach, :00


Rushing — Warsaw, Juan Jaramillo 8-100, Kane Dawson 16-89, Bryce Garner 8-51, Josh West 10-50, Wyatt Amiss 4-38, Aaron Greene 9-38, Colton Wampler 8-29; Wawasee, Keyan Peete 11-32, Evan Eshbach 2-(-1), Jesse Landeros 3-(-8).  Passing — Warsaw, West 5-5-112, 2 TD; Wawasee, Eshbach 16-28-231, 2 TD, 2 INT

Receiving — Warsaw, Jaramillo 2-48, Amiss 2-37, Mason Martz 1-37; Wawasee, Hepler 6-82, Slabaugh 3-38, LaShaun Morris 2-40, Kameron Salazar 2-26, Keyan Peete 1-27. 

Records: Warsaw 6-1, 4-1 NLC; Wawasee 0-7, 0-5 NLC