HUBER HEIGHTS — In a game that had a familiar feel, Wayne survived three turnovers to slip past Trotwood in overtime on senior night 41-35.
“I’m so proud of our guys, I mean we had one of these last week in Springfield, we kind of let that get away from us”, said Wayne Coach Jay Minton. “Hopefully the experience of being in that last week paid off this week.”
Trotwood won the toss but deferred so it could get its athletic defense on the field, but regardless the Warriors would have taken the ball if it had won the toss. Wayne has recently been opting to start with its offense on the field since most teams have been trying to grind it out to kill the clock and keep the Warrior offense off of the field.
Wayne’s opening drive was cut short when Trotwood junior defensive back Sammy Anderson picked off a Rashad McKee pass and returned it to about the 50 yard line.
On the first play senior running back Dae’Vontay Latimer ran right up the middle of the Wayne defense, bounced it outside and seemed to score, but the refs ruled that he stepped out of bounds inside the Wayne 20.
A few plays later junior running back Keon Hamilton rambled in from 11-yards out to put Trotwood up 7-0. The fact that Trotwood gashed the Wayne defense up the middle and moved the ball almost effortlessly was a little unnerving for the Wayne faithful that braved the elements to see their beloved Warriors.
Wayne wasted no time leveling up, taking less than 2 minutes to drive just over 60 yards. This time of year teams will use more players both ways. The Warriors did just that on its scoring drive as McKee hit senior defensive back, Justin Harris, playing wideout, on a 27 yard pass to tie it up at 7.
Wayne’s defense was able to make key plays and stop Trotwood on its next drive forcing them to punt. The Warriors struck quickly again, this time on a 44 yard touchdown run by Devin Nelson, using less than a minute to score, 14-7 Wayne.
What was believed to be a defensive struggle took on the appearance of a shootout. Trotwood started its drive at the 20 yard line but needed only 13 seconds for Wayne nemesis Dae’Vontay Latimer to break one 80 yards to tie the game back up at 14.
Wayne answered with an uncharacteristically long drive for its offense, taking over 5 minutes, mostly on the ground. Wayne looked like it was making a statement by lining up and handing the ball straight into the teeth of the Trotwood defense, getting between 6 to 9 yards per run. Even the 1 yard plunge by Devin Nelson was against a defensive formation stacked to stop a plunge. Nelson crossed the goal line easily to put Wayne up 21-14.
Trotwood ate up over 5 minutes on its next drive, which was dominated by the power running game of Latimer. Wayne was able to slow down the Trotwood offense and force a crucial third and 2 at the Wayne 3 yard line. The Rams ran play-action and sophomore quarterback Cooper Stewart found 6-foot, 6-inch senior tight end Justin Stephens to tie the game at 21.
The Rams left Wayne a little over 2-minutes left in the half, but that’s enough for two drives for the Warriors. However, a Wayne fumble in its out territory cut its drive short and put Trotwood in business with about a minute and a half left in the half.
Trotwood’s drive seemed to stall until Stewart hit senior Kenyon Sneed on a back-shoulder pass, which he carried out of bounds inside the Wayne 10 yard line with about 30 seconds left in the half.
Trotwood ran the ball up the middle twice but was stopped at the 1 yard line with time running out and no timeouts. Trotwood snapped the ball and ran a Stewart quarterback sneak with 5 seconds left in the half. A Wayne stop would have them going into the half tied, but Stewart was ruled across the line and Trotwood went into the locker room up 28-21 knowing that it would get the ball first in the second half.
Wayne was able to stop Trotwood on its first drive of the second half, which put some wind back into the Warriors’ sails. A two score game at this point would have felt like an insurmountable lead.
The Warriors went back to work with its power running game, exerting its will and moving the chains. It capped off the momentum changing drive with yet another Devin Nelson dive up the middle to tie the game again at 28.
Wayne stopped Trotwood again and drove the ball into Ram territory but another Warrior fumble ended the drive inside the Trotwood 30.
Trotwood made Wayne pay for the turnover, driving to the Wayne 30 and capping the drive off with yet another Stewart touchdown pass, this time a comeback to Sammy Anderson, 35-28 Trotwood.
Devin Nelson had punished the Trotwood defense all night, victimizing them for 178 yards on 33 carries so McKee found some success with his feet. In Wayne’s final drive of the game, McKee slashed through the Trotwood defense for 36 yards to the Rams’ 9 yard line on a critical third and long. McKee finished off the drive with a 3 yard scramble and score to tie the game at 35.
After a failed Trotwood drive to end regulation, the game went into overtime.
Wayne took the ball on offense and only needed one play to get the score. McKee handed the ball off to Nelson who flipped the ball to Cam Fancher on a reverse that Fancher took 20 yards for the touchdown. Problems with the hold on the extra point kept the score 41-35.
Wayne held Trotwood to 5 yards on three plays and left the Rams with a 4th and 5 at the Wayne 15.
Stewart dropped the shotgun snap and had to scramble when he gained control, but by that time Alijah Fleming had a bead on him. The Fleming hit dislodged the ball from Stewart, which was picked up and lateralled by another Rams player. A Warriors defensive lineman picked up the ball so the drive failed, giving Wayne the victory.
“I was a little concerned when we dropped that snap on the extra point but our defense really stepped up and got the job done,” Minton stated.
The Wayne win, paired with Miamisburg and Lancaster losses delivered the Warriors a No. 8 seed in the playoffs and cost the Rams a home playoff game. Wayne will travel to Hilliard Davidson to take on the No. 1 seeded Wildcats and Trotwood will travel to Kettering to take on Archbishop Alter.
“It’s the playoffs. What else can you ask for?” declared Minton. “You’re trying to leave a legacy you know, these seniors?”
Springfield lost to Fairmont so Wayne also gets a share of the GWOC National East title.