HUBER HEIGHTS– Messiah DeWeaver passed for 306 yards and four touchdowns to lead Wayne (10-0) to a decisive 56-14 win over Reynoldsburg (7-3) in the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Playoffs Saturday night at Wayne.
The last time a Reynoldsburg team made it to the playoffs was 14 years ago, so this team had already made history for their program. The next goal on their agenda was a first round win in the playoffs.
For Wayne, who had an undefeated regular season and made some history of their own, they were seeking to do what no other undefeated Wayne team had done, and that was to get a first round win in the playoffs.
“This is really big, “said Wayne Coach Jay Minton. “This is the first time we had a 10-0 team in the playoffs and won the first round game. Kids hear how great they are and all those compliments so it’s how you handle that, I don’t know if we handled it as well as we should based on our play in the first half.”
“We knew about the pressure,” said Antwand Wilson concerning the other 10-0 teams. “We took it as a drive to be better than the last teams that were 10-0, that’s what we did.”
Reynoldsburg started the game strong, showing that they not only belonged on the same field as Wayne, but were there to win. Wayne started slow, but Reynoldsburg discovered like most teams that once the “train” starts rolling, they are hard to slow down. Wayne amassed 530 yards of total offense on the night (224 yards rushing, 306 passing) while holding Reynoldsburg to just 5 yards rushing.
“Feels great to get the win, “said DeWeaver. “We started out slow, but our defense stepped up, we got the job done. We looked a little lost at first, but we picked it up, we started communicating better and our ‘o-line’ really stepped it up.’
Late in the first quarter, Daryl McCleskey got the hand off and ran right, shook off a tackler in the backfield, then cut back left for 18 yards. The next play, DeWeaver delivered a strike to L’Christian Smith for a 24-yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the first quarter to give Wayne the lead 7-0.
Reynoldsburg came right back putting together a strong drive of their own that culminated with a Nathan Barko pass to Jordan Hay for 30 yards and a touchdown that quieted the Wayne home crowd momentarily with 2:35 left in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7.
Wayne came back with another strong drive, but could not deliver as a penalty nullified a touchdown run and a fumble turned the ball back over to Reynoldsburg on the their own 5-yard line. Reynoldsburg failed to capitalize on the opportunity as two costly penalties forced a punt.
Wayne took advantage of great field position on the next drive and strong runs by Fred Pitts of 27 yards and Antwand Wilson for six yards to set up the one yard touchdown run by Pitts with 10:25 left in the second quarter to give Wayne the lead 13-7, inspite of a missed extra point attempt.
Wayne, facing a third-and-19 situation found, the end zone again as DeWeaver connected on a 22-yard touchdown strike to L’Christian Smith with 3:58 remaining in the second quarter to extend the lead to 19-7. Wayne went for two points and DeWeaver found his target Smith in the end-zone for a two-point conversion to extend Wayne’s lead to 21-7.
Reynoldsburg came back strong again, driving the ball into Wayne territory, but a McCleskey interception in the end-zone brought the drive to a sudden stop and returned the ball to Wayne. Wayne missed on several opportunities for interceptions during the drive, but McCleskey came up with the big play.
“You don’t want to panic when you drop an interception, “said Coach Minton. “You don’t want to miss opportunities, we were glad Daryl finished that off with a pick.”
Wayne capitalized on the turnover as Wilson took the hand-off and barreled his way to a 12-yard run that set up a DeWeaver to Matt Wilcox 13-yard touchdown pass with 2:04 left in the second quarter to extend Wayne’s lead to 28-7.
Reynoldsburg fought back as Cameron Young broke free for a 58 yard run that set up a Nathan Barko one-yard quarterback keeper into the end-zone with just 20-seconds left in the second quarter to cut into Wayne’s lead 28-14 going into half-time.
Wayne opened the third quarter with an impressive 13-play drive that featured strong runs by Pitts and Wilson. The drive was capped off by a McCleskey 1-yard run as he arrived untouched into the end-zone with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter to extend Wayne’s lead to 35-14.
At this point, there was no stopping Wayne as they asserted their will on Reynoldsburg and began to roll forward to a certain victory. On another third-and-19 situation, DeWeaver again connected with Smith for a 52-yard touchdown strike (his third TD catch) with 4:58 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 42-14 to force a running clock situation.
Wayne scored again with 28 seconds left in the third quarter as Wilson ran up the middle for a 19-yard touchdown that resembled a “run-away train” to extend the lead to 49-14.
“I saw the linebackers blitz and the hole open up, “said Wilson. “All I saw was daylight, and you run to daylight. It felt good; I am blessed with the opportunity of being a part of this team. I have a great O-line that opened up the holes for me tonight.”
Wayne’s last score came on a Josh Foster 5-yard touchdown run with 2:57 left in the game to extend the lead to 56-14.
DeWeaver was 18 of 29 for 306 yards and four TDs while Matt Wilcox had nine catches for 108 yards and one TD. Smith had six catches for 147 yards and three TDs and Fred Pitts had 67 yards rushing on six carries and one TD. Wilson had 64 yards on 11 carries and 1 TD while and Mazon Walker had three sacks and one fumble recovery. Justin Harris also had an interception late in the contest.
“Our kids now know playoff time you turn it up, said Coach Minton. “This game was a great opportunity and a great reminder for us.”
Wayne advances to the second round of Ohio High School Athletic Association Div. I Football Playoffs against GWOC foe Springboro on Saturday, Nov. 14. The location has yet to be determined. Springboro is 9-2 and defeated Mason 42-21 Saturday evening.
Reach Stephen Granata by contacting Greg Smart at 684-8088.