The programs agreed to play the game just prior to preseason when two Canadian teams pulled out of a scheduled doubleheader. The neighboring rivals hadn’t played since 2010, a 24-7 Centerville win. This was only their sixth meeting and needed the OK from Alter seniors to happen.
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“I told the captains we had a chance to play Centerville,” Domsitz said. “I said, we may not be going to the playoffs after Fairmont and Centerville. The captains talked to the other seniors and they said absolutely, we want to play Centerville. Thirty years from now we do not want to regret passing up the chance to play Centerville.”
Alter (2-1) won its second straight after falling 12-6 in the final seconds at Fairmont in the opener.
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Centerville (0-3) has not won since a 35-0 defeat of Hilliard Darby in a Division I playoff opener last season. The Elks have lost four straight over two seasons. That hasn’t happened since Centerville started the 2001 season 0-4.
Alter opened the low-scoring affair with Jack Ruffolo’s 38-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. Centerville answered with freshman quarterback Chase Harrison’s 5-yard run for a 7-3 halftime lead.
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Twice Centerville thwarted Alter drives with interceptions of Knights senior quarterback Connor Bazelak and both were in the end zone, the first by Jonathan Bruder and another by Kyle Hurles. But Bazelak, verbally committed to the University of Missouri, was money when it counted most.
He continually connected on the winning drive and darted 15 yards for a clutch first down before Landers tallied the game winner. Bazelak completed 25 of 48 passes for 227 yards and those two picks, all career single-game highs.
“It meant everything,” said Landers, the brother of former Dunbar All-Ohioan Terrance Landers and a cousin to Dayton basketball starter Trey Landers and Ohio State football lineman Robert Landers. “We wanted this real bad.”
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Harrison, who split time with senior Tyler King in the Elks’ two other games, went the distance, completing 12 of 31 passes for 124 yards. His older brother Jacob Harrison was a standout at Centerville as a senior after transferring from Chaminade Julienne. Jacob is now a backup QB at Navy.
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Following Landers’ score, Centerville’s Trevion Feazell had a long kickoff return and a Knights penalty put the Elks on Alter’s 37. But then Alter’s Austin Helm swatted a Harrison pass. After three more incompletions the Alter sideline erupted in celebration and the Knights ran out the clock.
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“When you play a really good team you can’t make mistakes,” Centerville coach Brent Ullery said. “They’re a good team and have a good coach.”
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