WAYNESVILLE — Carlisle came into Waynesville with the swagger of the No. 2 ranked Division IV team in Dayton.
The Indians left with their undefeated record barely intact.
Carlisle defensive back Tommy Thacker used all of his 5-foot-11 frame to deflect a jump-ball pass out of the hands of Waynesville’s Ryan Potter in the back of the end zone as time expired to preserve a 28-24 victory on Friday, Sept. 17.
The game-saving play halted a heroic Spartan comeback that saw them nearly erase a 12-point fourth quarter deficit. Waynesville drove from their own 16-yard line to the Carlisle five in the final three minutes and 20 seconds.
“I was pretty sure they were coming my way because (Potter) had a height advantage on me,” Thacker said. “I saw the ball in the air and thought I better make the play or my name would be mud. I just got my hand in there and broke it up. I saw zeroes on the clock and started celebrating.”
Carlisle (4-0, 1-0 SWBL Buckeye) seemed to have the game in hand after building a 21-2 first half lead on the legs of Jordan Jacobs. The senior running back rushed for 185 yards and two scores on 18 carries and also caught a 55-yard scoring pass from Nick Reynolds.
But, Waynesville (2-2, 0-1) stormed back on the arm and legs of quarterback Luke Credit. He rushed for 248 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries and threw for 136 yards and two scores.
“That was a scary one,” Carlisle coach Bill Jewell said. “Waynesville didn’t quit, They never have and they never will.
“A lot of lessons were learned out there tonight and hopefully both teams are going to be better because of it. This win means a lot to us.”
Penalties played a pivotal role against the Spartans as they were flagged for two false starts in the final 30 seconds when they reached the Carlisle 5-yard line. A roughing-the-punter penalty kept alive one Indian drive and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allowed Carlisle to eat up extra time in the fourth quarter. The Spartans also fumbled the ball inside the Indian 10-yard line in the first quarter and had a field goal attempt hit the upright.
“Penalties hurt us all night long,” Waynesville coach Brandon Philpot said. “You can’t make mistakes like that and beat a team like Carlisle.
“But, I’m proud of our kids. They played their hearts out and deserved a better fate than they got tonight. Carlisle’s a great team. We hope we can both get into the playoffs.”