Their season on the brink of plummeting to an unfamiliar low, Wayne coach Jay Minton pleaded for answers.
“The coaches told us, we’ve never been put in this position,” said Warriors senior quarterback Rashad McKee, reflecting on a previous blowout loss at Miamisburg. “We made it hard on ourselves. Coach asked if the seniors wanted to say anything. I stood up and said, it’s now or never.”
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Wayne, and especially McKee, backed that up by overwhelming visiting Northmont in the second half for a midseason and program-defining 49-20 hammering of the area’s top-rated Division I team on Friday night.
Wayne faced a seemingly daunting challenge to prevent a three-game losing streak. Tied at 14-all, the Warriors outscored the Thunderbolts 35-6 in the second half and kneeled down the final minute inside the Northmont 5.
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“It was probably one of the most important wins we’ve had here in a long time,” said an emotionally charged Minton as the Wayne locker room erupted in raucous celebration. “I wrote the first few lines on my resignation after (Miamisburg). Now, we’re right back in the thick of things.”
The clutch win recharges Wayne’s (3-2) D-I, Region 3 playoff hopes. The Warriors will play all Greater Western Ohio Conference National East teams through Weeks 6-9 and end the regular season by hosting Trotwood-Madison.
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It’s the first loss for Northmont (4-1), which had no answer for McKee. The three-year starter – and Warriors spokesman – passed for a career-high five touchdowns and ran for two more.
Three of McKee’s TD strikes went to senior Steve Victoria, covering 79, 36 and 4 yards. McKee also had scoring passes to Cameron Fancher (31 yards) and Laquan Carpenter (5) and ran for touchdowns of 33 and 11 yards.
“Rashad is a really, really good quarterback and he played great,” conceded Northmont coach Tony Broering. “He’s a special player.”
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Northmont initially appeared up to the Wayne Train challenge. T-Bolts senior QB Miles Johnson opened scoring with a 33-yard scoring pass to Jazz Keys. Northmont’s Jestin Jacobs, a senior who is verbally committed to the University of Iowa as a linebacker, dashed 60 yards for another go-ahead score.
Victoria’s first TD catch drew the teams even at halftime, then the rout was on.
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McKee completed 22 of 35 passes for 319 yards and passed or ran for every Wayne score. He also led the Warriors with 113 yards rushing. Victoria, out against Miamisburg with an injury, had eight catches for 183 yards and those three scores.
Northmont’s Johnson completed 13 of 28 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Keys had six catches for 64 yards and Danny Lewis four for 99 yards.
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It was the sixth straight Wayne defeat of Northmont. The teams could earn a postseason rematch because both are lumped in D-I, Region 3.
“Now, we’re going to see what we’re really made of and what kind of character we have and how we handle adversity,” Broering said. “We’ve got some things we’ve got to fix.”
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