Centerville and Wayne renewed their rivalry on the football field Friday night in Huber Heights in a huge National League showdown. The Elks and Warriors both wanted to get a win to keep pace with Springfield in the division race.
The Elks were hoping to get off to a great start on the road and did just that. After picking up a couple first downs on their opening drive of the game, the offense stalled and the Elks turned the ball over on downs on the Warriors 38 yard line with 7:41 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, sophomore defensive back Matthew Graveline stepped in front of a Warrior pass to give the ball back to the offense on the Warriors 47 with 6:41 left in the quarter. The offense cashed in when senior running back Bryce McMahon bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out. Brendan Salo added the PAT and the Elks had a 7-0 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors let the ball bounce and it took a weird hop. After a scramble for the ball, the Elks had it back on the Warriors 28. The offense did not let that opportunity slip away as sophomore quarterback Chase Harrison hit junior wide receiver Will Jackson-Linkhart with a 19-yard touchdown pass. Salo’s PAT gave the Elks a 14-0 lead with just 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
The ensuing Wayne drive covered the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarter. The Warriors scored their first points of the night when their quarterback took a draw right through the middle of the defense from 22 yards out. A successful PAT trimmed the Elks lead to 14-7 with 10:15 left in the first half. On their ensuing possession, the Elks once again drove deep into Wayne territory, but again stalled and turned it over on downs at the 23 with 6:25 left in the second quarter. The Warriors made them pay as they drove 77 yards and finished the drive with an 18 yard touchdown pass on fourth and six. A successful PAT evened the game at 14 with 1:51 left in the first half. The Elks tried to add more points, but a deep ball was intercepted late in the first half and the Warriors ran out the clock to send both teams to their respective locker rooms in a 14-14 tie.
Wayne recovered the onside kick to start the second half and drove to the Elks 15 yard line, but saw the drive end when their 32 yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 9:30 left in the third quarter. The Elks once again crossed midfield, but stalled out on offense and turned the ball over on downs at the Wayne 38 with 6:13 left. Wayne crossed midfield on their ensuing possession, but fumbled the ball away after a nice strip of the running back. The Elks took over on their own 35 with 4:55 left in the third quarter and began another long drive. As time expired, the game was down to 12 minutes to decide a winner as it remained tied at 14.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Harrison and Jackson-Linkhart connected for the second time, this one from 16-yards out. Salo’s third PAT of the night gave the Elks the lead back at 21-14 with 11:56 left in the game. Wayne answered that score quickly as they raced down the field and scored on a quarterback draw from 23 yards out. A successful PAT tied the game back up at 21 all with 10:22 left to play. The Elks went three and out on their next possession and punted the ball back to Waynne who took over on their own 25 with 8:06 left. The Warriors were able to pick up one first down, but were then forced to punt. Punting into a strong wind led to a short punt which gave the Elks great field position at their own 45 with 6:41 to play. Unfortunately, the offense went three and out and punted the ball back to the Warriors who took over on their own 14 with 5:06 left. Once again, Wayne picked up one first down, but was then forced to punt. As it had done the last time, the wind played a significant role in this effort, sending the ball sideways and allowing the Elks to take over on the Wayne 32 with just 2:37 left in the game. After picking up one first down on another powerful run by McMahon, the Elks were facing a third and 11 on their own 23 with the ball on the left hashmark. Most people in attendance assumed the Elks would run the ball to position it in the middle of the field to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. Harrison took the snap and appeared to be doing just that as he ran toward the middle of the field. However, he stopped and threw an absolute dart to sophomore wide receiver Cam Smith, who was wide open on the play. Smith raced into the end zone, but the PAT sailed wide left giving the Elks a 27-21 lead with just 30 seconds left in the game. Starting from their own 20, the Warriors picked up 21 yards on first down and got out of bounds with 23 seconds left. The next play, they again tossed a short pass to a speedy wideout who inexplicably cut back into the field of play instead of getting out of bounds and was tackled by the defense a yard short of the first down. Before the Warriors could line up and spike the ball, the clock had ticked all the way down to just five seconds left in the game. On their final play, the Warriors again threw a short pass and tried a series of laterals that did not fool the Elks defense as they finally made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, setting off a wild celebration on the sideline as time expired.
Harrison finished 21 of 28 for 205 yards and three touchdowns and McMahon once again eclipsed the 100-yard mark as he went for 105 on 27 carries with a score.
The freshman and JV teams made it a clean sweep for the Elks this weekend as the JV’s won a shootout with the Warriors on Saturday morning at CHS, 49-30. That was followed by the freshman game between the Elks and the Ponitz JV team which was won by the hosts, 38-0.
Now 4-2 overall and 2-0 in league play, the boys are back at home on Friday night as they welcome the Fairmont Firebirds to CHS for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.