Centerville stuns Springboro

That’s the only way to explain what happened here Friday night. A 59-yard catch-and-run by Centerville receiver Nate Richmond resulted in a clutch 27-24 Elks victory. That was as unlikely as Centerville was in nearly doubling its passing yardage (190) to the run (97).

These aren’t the Elks everyone has grown up on over the title-clinching years.

“I had to make a play,” said Richmond, a fleet junior who’s full of twisting spin moves and short on adjectives. “We had to. We were down and we needed to score.”

Thanks, Nate, for reminding us all how simple a complex game should be.

This was championship-caliber play in just Week 2. A GWOC crossover contest, it had as many story angles as the 500 Springboro students who hoped to set a Guinness world record for taking the ACL Ice Bucket Challenge together after the game.

Centerville coach Rodney Roberts was the head coach at Springboro, among other stops. He left Franklin to take over at Centerville when Ron Ullery wasn’t retained after last season. Ullery is now an offensive line coach at Springboro.

Following that? What matters most is these teams could play again and should contend for GWOC division titles and playoff berths.

Centerville led 14-0 after six minutes, which only seemed to wake up Springboro. Early in the third quarter it was 21-14 Springboro.

Still trailing, Richmond beamed when he heard his number called.

“A hitch,” he said, smiling.

Make that the greatest hitch-and-run in Elks history. He snared a dart from Will Vance just over the line of scrimmage, spun twice and broke at least three tackles, maybe four — how about the entire town of Springboro? — before outracing the Panthers secondary with 2:56 left.

It’s hard to say if Centerville wouldn’t have won that way in previous run-oriented seasons. The stats say otherwise.

Elks running back Damian Popp surpassed 2,000 yards rushing last season. He had 20 rushes for a career-low 32 yards. Vance was 14 of 21 passing for 190 yards and two TDs. Those numbers weren’t likely in seasons past. They are now.

Roberts credited Elk Pride and Richmond and everyone who wore yellow and black. And also stated the obvious: “We stole one.”

Elijah Cunningham riddled the Elks for 309 yards passing, completing 25 of 45 tosses for two scores. D.L. Knock had seven catches for 120 yards and a TD. But the edge in stats wasn’t enough.

“That last play, you have to tackle,” Springboro coach Ryan Wilhite said. “That’s still the bedrock of this game, tackling.”

Score the most and win. Stop the other team from scoring. It doesn’t get more basic than that.

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