‘Let’s go win’: Centerville rallies to beat Wayne on final play of the game

CENTERVILLE — Braylon Newcomb isn’t the veteran pocket passer football fans think you need in a two-minute drive to win the game.

But all two-minute drives aren’t created equal. And neither are quarterbacks.

On Friday night against rival Wayne, the sophomore Newcomb – all 5 feet, 8 inches and 160 pounds of him – played the position for the final 2:30 like a poised veteran, scrambling and passing to convert two fourth downs.

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At the end of the 66-yard drive and one of wildest nights in the 68th meeting, Newcomb threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior Nic Bruder with nine-tenths of a second left to lift the Elks to a 38-35 victory on the final night and snap of the regular season.

“It is one of the best experiences of my life,” Newcomb said. “I was just thinking, ‘let’s go win. There ain’t no reason to be scared.’ I love my brothers. I knew they had my back and I had theirs, so we did it.”

The Elks snapped the ball with 7.8 seconds left and Newcomb moved around the backfield, like he did the entire drive, looking for an open receiver against eight Wayne defenders. He saw Bruder break open in the back of the end zone, and Bruder, who makes big plays every game on offense, defense and as a kick returner, jumped and caught the pass.

“We do a two-minute drill every Thursday against our defense, and I just knew that we had the offensive lineman to be able to hold up, all our wide receivers were in there doing a great job and I just happened to be open on the last play,” Bruder said. “Braylon threw a great ball.”

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Newcomb, who passed for 129 yards and rushed for 31, started his third game Friday after replacing an injured Drake Wells in Week 7 against Beavercreek. Wells and Chase Harrison before him are know as passers more than Newcomb is. But he made a completion on fourth-and-5 to start the drive and scrambled for a first down on fourth-and-1 to set up the winning score.

“He’s just a great athlete all around,” Bruder said. “I know he’s going to make a play whenever he can. Never nervous, never wavers at all. He’s just a great player.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Centerville (8-2, 5-2 GWOC) maintained the No. 3 seed in Division I, Region 2 according to joeeitel.com and will host a playoff game next Friday against Northmont, a team the Elks beat 37-6 on Sept. 16. Wayne (6-4, 4-3) entered the night in seventh place in the region and dropped to 10th and will play at No. 7 Fairmont (7-3) on Friday. The Warriors lost to Fairmont 26-21 on Oct. 7. The playoff pairings are announced Sunday.

Elks coach Brent Ullery trusted Newcomb’s play-making ability.

“We know that he makes plays somehow and he makes plays sometimes with his arm, sometimes it’s with his feet,” Ullery said. “He finds a way to get it done usually, so we knew just put all of our best players on the field and get after it.”

Ullery also liked the way Newcomb managed the clock with one timeout and was willing to scramble when necessary and throw when necessary.

“It was very impressive to see a sophomore, relatively new quarterback, go out there and execute at that level,” Ullery said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Bruder, who intercepted his third pass during the first half, gave Newcomb a head start on the final drive with a 12-yard punt return.

“Bruder is the gift that keeps giving,” Ullery said. “He finds a way to make plays. He’s tougher than nails, as sharp as a knife. He’s our team captain for his leadership reasons, but he also is a leader on the field because he makes plays. We can rely on him.”

The Elks increased their edge in the series to 35-32-1 by surviving a roller-coaster second half. They led 10-7 and halftime and 24-7 with 4:10 left in the third quarter after two quick touchdowns, a 2-yard pass from Newcomb to Bryce Cowgill and a Newcomb 3-yard run after a blocked punt. Emable Wakilongo kept drives going and rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

But Wayne came back in a wild second half to take a 35-31 lead with 6:45 left when Josh Williams blocked a punt, picked up the bouncing ball and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. About three minutes later, the Elks made a stop on third-and-7 to get the ball back for the last drive.

“I thought that was the most impressive attack of the adversity of the night,” Ullery said.

In a 5:47 stretch that began with 5:22 left in the third on Cowgill’s touchdown, the teams combined for five touchdowns and the Elks survived the stretch ahead 31-21. But Wayne kept coming on Tyrell Lewis’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Teaunn Hunter who broke two tackles and made two others miss.

Then came the blocked punt to Wayne ahead. Then came the drive engineered by the sophomore QB to lead the Elks to such a memorable Senior Night win.

“It’s surreal, it’s a movie,” Bruder said. “Our brotherhood here is unbreakable.”

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