By Chris Miles
ZANESVILLE — Bigger. Faster. Stronger.
The Zanesville football team was all of the above in a 42-0 victory over visiting Jonathan Alder during a Week Five tilt played at Zanesville’s Sulsberger Stadium Friday.
The host Blue Devils and quarterback Thomas Wibbeler piled up a game’s worth of impressive numbers completing 16-for-18 passes for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns all in the first half of a lopsided affair between teams with state playoff aspirations. It marked the second time in three weeks Alder was manhandled by a talented opponent.
Unlike the humbling 49-7 loss to Clinton-Massie in Week 3 where the Falcons did the bulk of their damage on the ground, this time it was the high-flying passing attack of the Blue Devils (5-0) the Pioneers just couldn’t solve.
Wibbeler led the home team on four long first half drives of 80, 79, 61 and 85 yards, three of them ended with a touchdown pass. The quarterback routinely found wide receivers running free in the shaky Alder secondary.
“They have multiple weapons and a great combination of quarterback and skill guys,” Alder coach Steve Coate said. “They are definitely difficult to defend.”
Alder (3-2), which hadn’t faced a passing attack in the first four weeks of the season anywhere close to the one put on the field by the Blue Devils, seemed to take a quarter and a half to adjust to the Zanesville speed.
Wibbeler finished the game 23 of 26 for 391 yards and five touchdowns.
It might have been something it saw on film leading up to the game or perhaps Zanesville just wanted to test the Alder secondary by seeing if they could stay with the speedy wide receivers and Alder just couldn’t do it.
When the Pioneers did have the ball, they were unable to do much with it. They moved into Nick Smith field goal range early in the second quarter but the strong legged-kicker missed a 47-yard field goal try wide.
On another possession the Pioneers marched deep into Blue Devils territory, but quarterback Andy Fooce was forced to leave the playing surface for a play after his helmet came off during a run.
With him off the field for the one play backup quarterback John Jewett slid over to the signal caller spot from his starting wide receiver slot, and proceeded to throw an interception at the goal line.
Alder’s Brad Miller recovered a Zanesville fumble just before the half, but Smith was unable to connect on a 41-yard field goal, sending the teams to the half with the Blue Devils ahead 28-0.
Things didn’t change in the second half as Wibbeler led two scoring drives in the third quarter, tossing touchdowns to Dar Stanford and Granger Long.
Alder’s defense forced four turnovers in the game but was unable to turn any of them into points.
“That’s a very good team over there and we knew that coming in,” Coate said. “They were very good last week too. We have to figure out the solutions to the problems we have.”