A record-setting night by bruising West Holmes running back Layne Perone helped the Knights overcome some early mistakes and throttle the visiting Wooster Generals 43-0 in a driving rain Friday at Knights Stadium.
Perone rushed for 253 yards on 21 carries including a pair of touchdown runs, the second tying the school record for touchdowns in a season at 23, set by Nolan Mackey in 2000, the last time West Holmes was playoff bound.
The junior also set the single-season record for points, surpassing Mackey's total of 144 with 148.
"He's a tremendous back who can hit it up in there," said West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich. "He breaks tackles left and right, and he's got a good burst of speed. Layne's pretty good when he's healthy.
"The thing is, this team does a good job of playing for each other," the coach continued. "The line did a great job of opening some holes and we were able to exploit them."
The Knights churned out 439 yards on the ground on 53 attempts, powered by Perone, along with Garrett Mackey (9 carries, 37 yards), Grant Hay (3/29), Luke Ogi (12/55) and Clay Stutzman (2/53).
The Knights fumbled away two of their first three possessions before settling into their powerful ground game and running over the Generals.
The teams slogged through a scoreless first quarter.
West Holmes fumbled on its second possession but Wooster was unable to get its offense on track either, letting a golden opportunity slip through its hands.
On the first play after Wooster's Grant Stokes recovered a Perone fumble, Cam Daugherty hit a streaking Darrian Owens down the sidelines, but the receiver was unable to hang on to the slick pigskin.
The Knights dodged another bullet after losing their second fumble, but the defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Brady Arnold returned the ball to the 35, from where West Holmes marched 65 yards in 14 plays. Perone powered it in from the 2 for a 6-0 lead one minute into the second quarter.
"Records are good, but as long as our team's winning, that's my main goal," Perone said.
Arnold set up the next score as well, picking off a Daugherty pass and returning it to the Wooster 32. The Knights needed four plays to score with Hay carrying it in from 5 yards out. Perone bulled his way into the end zone for the 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead at 7:13 of the first half.
West Holmes took a 22-0 lead into the locker room at intermission as Gabe Snyder hit Arnold on an 11-yard scoring strike, a fade into the left corner of the end zone. Perone rumbled in with the 2-point conversion with :05 remaining in the first half.
"That was certainly a key point in the game," Wooster coach Doug Haas said. "If we keep it at 14-0, get the ball coming out in the third quarter and do something with it, then it's a one-score game."
Wooster had the ball to open the second half, and the Generals were driving down the field, but Mason Tomblin fumbled after a long run into Knights' territory, getting stripped by Arnold at the 19.
"It feels really good to make a play for my team that helps put us up even more," Arnold said. "I like to fill hard and stick them at the line. But I do whatever I can to help my team."
From there, it took the Knights seven plays to go 81 yards. Perone broke loose up the middle for a 27-yard scoring romp. Snyder ran in the conversion and West Holmes led 30-0.
After a Wooster punt, Mackey made it 37-0 with a 4-yard scoring plunge.
Wooster answered by driving deep into West Holmes territory, only to run out of downs at the 21 of the Knights.
"When we got down in the red zone and bogged down, a couple mistakes hurt us," Haas said. "We were never able to secure any momentum."
The Knights responded with a two-play scoring drive to cap off the scoring.
Ogi swept right end on a 25-yard scoring jaunt, after Perone busted loose on a 54-yard run the previous play.
A pair of penalties on the ensuing kickoff gave Wooster the ball at the Knights' 25, but again the West Holmes defense stiffened, taking over on downs and then ran out the clock. It was the Knights' eighth win in nine games (5-1 Ohio Cardinal Conference). Wooster dipped to 2-7, 1-5 in the OCC.
"There was twice they had first-and-goal and we shut the door on them," Maltarich said. "That was good to see. As we get into this thing down here, we need to play good defense. That's something they say wins championships We've got to start playing some good defense."
Maltarich praised the defense again for keeping the game scoreless after the Knights' early turnover woes.
"We didn't do a good job on offense early, but the defense held them," Maltarich said. "Those are some things we've got to (clean up) down the stretch here. We can't turn the ball over."
Wooster was limited to 136 total yards on the game, including 36 through the air.
Daugherty managed to complete only 6-of-19 passes with an interception.
"Field conditions were hard. That made it a challenge. But you've got to credit their defense. They ran to the ball well," Haas said. "They were able to take away some of our short passing game. It was not going to be a crisp throwing night tonight."
Conversely, Snyder hit 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards and a touchdown toss.
"I was concerned. We want good footing. The rain is kind of an equalizer, but we prefer playing on a good, solid surface," Maltarich said.