CLAYTON — In a game between Greater Western Ohio Conference powerhouses that lived up to its hype it took double overtime before Wayne escaped with a hard-fought 38-35 victory over Northmont. Wayne improved to 4-1 overall while Northmont fell to 3-2.
Garrett Russell kicked a 27 yard field goal in the second overtime to give the Warriors a hard-fought victory.
After the game an emotionally exhausted Wayne Coach Jay Minton knew his team overcame a tough opponent.
“Oh my God. That is a credit to Northmont. They got on a roll,” Minton said. “Hats off to them. They really played hard. They were down 21-0 and they could have packed it in but they fought back. Tony (Broering) has them playing really hard and that is why they were 3-1 coming in to this game.”
At the outset it looked as though Wayne would run away with an easy victory. The Warriors led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and 21-0 with 10:08 remaining in the first half.
Wayne scored on a 7 yard touchdown pass from Rashad McKee (20-36, 207 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INT) to Austin Mullins, a 10 yard pass from McKee to L’Christian Smith and a 14 yard pass to Mullins from McKee to build a three touchdown lead.
Northmont finally got on the scoreboard with a 10-play, 86 yard drive capped by a 6 yard touchdown pass from Miles Johnson to Dawson Walker to make it 21-7 with 4:49 remaining in the first half. Wayne held that lead at halftime, but in the second half Northmont ramped up its effort and came storming back.
With 7:02 remaining in the third quarter Johnson tossed a 6 yard touchdown to Kameron Mathis to cap a 47 yard scoring drive to cut Wayne’s lead to 21-14.
After forcing the Warriors to punt on their next possession Donavin Wallace returned Wayne’s punt 75 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown but the play was wiped out by an illegal block in the back and brought the ball back to the Northmont 42 yard line. That play would have been a game changer.
Two plays later Josiah Matthews intercepted a Northmont pass and returned it 12 yards to the Thunderbolts’ 37 yard line. From there it took Wayne only three plays to boost its lead to 28-14 when McKee hit Smith with a 21 yard touchdown pass.
Northmont responded with a seven play, 87 yard drive with Johnson scoring on a six yard quarterback keeper to make 28-21.
On Wayne’s next possession McKee coughed up a fumble on the second play from scrimmage and Logan Jewsikow recovered the ball for Northmont at Wayne’s 36. Northmont drove to the seven but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. Northmont passed up a field goal attempt and the fourth down pass play was broken up by Demetrius Ross.
After Wayne took over at the seven Jason Zile picked off a McKee pass on third down and five. Zile made the interception at the 15 and returned it to the two yard line. Three plays later Johnson scored on a quarterback keeper and Brandon Goodwin’s point after tied the game 28-28 with 8:42 remaining.
Regulation play ended with the score tied at 28. In overtime Wayne scored in two plays. Starting at Northmont’s 20 yard line McKee kept the ball and ran 16 yards for a first and goal at the four. On the next play McKee scored and Russell’s kick gave Wayne a 35-28 lead.
Johnson scored on an eight yard quarterback keeper and Goodwin’s kick tied the game at 35.
In the second overtime Northmont had first possession. On the second play from scrimmage Justin Harris intercepted a Johnson pass intended for Jabari Perkins at the two yard line. By rule the change of possession gave Wayne the ball at the 20. On third down and goal at the Northmont 10 Russell came in to kick the winning field goal to give the Warriors the victory.
“Justin Harris is a big time player and big time players make big time plays at the right moment,” Minton said. “We had to do what we had to do. Our defense put a lot of pressure on Northmont, but we are fortunate to get out of here with a win. Our kids grew up a lot tonight. I didn’t realize how young we were at the beginning of the season, but we grew up a lot more tonight and this win is pretty big for us. It really defines us even more.”
After the game Northmont Coach Tony Broering reminded his players that this loss did not mean their season was over. He told them that after last year’s loss to Wayne they dwelled on the loss too long and it cost them two more games that resulted in defeats.
While the loss was hard to swallow, this game proved the Thunderbolts have come a long way and deserved to be on the same field with the best teams in the conference.
“The boys did a tremendous job and played their hearts out,” Broering said. “I told them in the post-game huddle that I was proud of them. They didn’t take a backwards step. They fought Wayne the entire game and came back after being down by 21 points and they really deserved to win.”
McKee hurt Northmont in the air and one the ground. In addition to his four touchdown passes he carried the ball 21 times for 86 yards and one touchdown.
“McKee is a good quarterback and tonight you saw the two best quarterbacks going head-to-head,” Broering stated. “I have to look at the game film to see what each one did. It seemed like Miles Johnson did some really good things too. Wayne has good players. They have a couple of good guys and we have a couple of good guys so that is why it went to double overtime. We made a lot of great plays. That interception by Jason Zile and the touchdown that Johnson ran in and Devin Kenerly ran hard, but everyone contributed. On defense A.J. Trammell had a big interception. There were so many big plays but there are always so many little things we could have done better. The game was up and down and it was great high school football game that went into two overtimes and it was a tough loss.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind