The idea for the biggest play in Friday night’s Centerville at Wayne football game was an answer found in last Saturday’s homework.
“Our receiver coach scouted it out, our quarterbacks coach scouted that play out and we knew that this was the time to call it,” Centerville head coach Brent Ullery said.
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Sophomore wide receiver Cameron Smith was confident the play would work: “Before I even lined up,” he said.
The Elks were at the Wayne 23, and Smith lined up in the slot to the right. Sophomore quarterback Chase Harrison rolled to his right. Smith ran an out and up, the defender bit on the out move and Smith broke open. Harrison’s pass hit the wide-open Smith in the chest at the 5 and he scored easily with 30 seconds left to lift the Elks to a 27-21 victory.
“That last play was amazing,” said Smith, who caught six passes for 55 yards. “It was super electric and wide open and a beautiful pass by my quarterback.”
The Elks (4-2, 2-0 GWOC American) took possession at the Wayne 32 after a 6-yard punt with 2:37 left. Wayne used its timeouts, but Centerville didn’t. Ullery let the clock run as the Elks kept the ball on the ground with Bryce McMahon (29 carries for 110 yards) until the third-down-and-12 play that won the game. If the pass hadn’t work, Ullery was confident in a field goal attempt.
“We had to come through,” Harrison said. “Our defense held for us and we had to clutch up and show them what we’re about.”
What the Elks are about is a lot different than last year’s uncharacteristic 2-8 season. Now that they’ve won four straight they have creeped into the top eight in the Division I, Region 2 playoff race. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
“We’re getting in the groove,” said Harrison, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 184 yards. “We’ve got a lot of confidence going into next week — just keep playing how we are.”
Wayne (1-5, 0-1) is trending in the other direction. The Warriors are having the kind of season the Elks had last year despite being competitive in every game.
“We’ve just got to continue to work and fight through the adversity,” said first-year head coach Roosevelt Mukes. “There’s a lesson in all of this. When you’re in the middle of it it’s hard to understand what that lesson is. It’s about them. I feel bad for my players because they work so hard.”
Wayne showed fight when it fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. The Elks used an interception by Matthew Graveline and the recovery of a pooch kickoff to score on McMahon’s 1-yard run and Harrison’s 19-yard pass to Will Linkhart. The Warriors responded with Cam Fancher’s 22-yard touchdown run and Fancher’s 18-yard touchdown pass to RJ Mukes to tie the score at halftime.
Harrison’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Linkhart on the first play of the fourth quarter put Centerville up 21-14. Fancher came right back to lead another drive and score on a 22-yard run to tie the score again with 10:22 left. Fancher rushed for 89 yards and passed for 188.
“They continue to fight, so you’re seeing that growth of what’s in them is that competitiveness of never giving up, to always fight to the end,” Mukes said. “I just want them to see the fruits of their labor.”
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