Huber Heights, Ohio — A rivalry that has taken over the GWOC has been Wayne and Centerville. Whether its Lawrent Rice versus Gabe Cupps in basketball. Or Cam Fancher versus Chase Harrison in football, you know it will be a good contest.
The Warriors came into this game fresh off a heartbreaking loss in the GWOC title game to Northmont. Many Wayne players felt as if they’d been robbed of a GWOC title, so coming into this game it meant a little more. “My thoughts were to get to 1-0. Whatever had to happen I just wanted to get to 1-0,” said Wayne senior quarterback Cam Fancher. “Of course with us beating them how we did the first game we knew they’d come out with some fire, we just had to come out even stronger and just play our game.”
The last time these two teams met, it ended in a thrilling fashion. Cam Fancher led a 98-yard drive and connected with Bryan Kinley on a 35-yard bomb with just 14 seconds remaining. That win lifted Wayne back towards the top of the GWOC, while Centerville slowly dropped towards the bottom.
On each team’s first drive, they took a shot deep. Centerville’s pass was completed but the receiver’s foot was just barely touching the white sideline. Fancher overthrew Jah’rod Lankford on his deep attempt, which led to a Wayne punt.
The rest of the first quarter was mostly defensive stops. After another stop by Wayne’s defense, the Elks were forced to punt. Cam Smith’s punt bounced off of the hands of Jah’rod Lankford and an army of Centerville players fell on it.
The very next play, Chase Harrison found Cam Smith in the back corner of the end-zone for a 13-yard touchdown. This score put Centerville on the board first and gave them a 7-0 lead.
“It was good to be able to strike first and grab the momentum since it was 0-0 before that.” Said Harrison after his drive to give the Elks the lead.
Ray Greene got Wayne’s next drive started with a bang. He took a run 53 yards into enemy territory. Then a couple plays later, Greene took it 9 yards and into the end-zone to tie the game. Wayne’s quick drive only lasted 4 and a half minutes and gave them back the momentum.
When Ray Greene was asked about how he felt following his pair of big runs that tied the game, he said, “It was great, because the team needed a spark to get us going and I was able to give them that.”
Centerville could not be stopped on their following possession. Harrison let Bryant Callahan go to work as the junior back got first down after first down. The drive eventually ended as Callahan coughed up the football and Trayvonn Cobb recovered to give the Warriors back the football.
The score at halftime was still 7-7 as this defensive battle would be won in the second half. Centerville just barely missed their attempt at an onside kick as the ball went out of bounds after being touched by Wayne to begin the third quarter.
After a holding penalty, Cam Fancher was sacked on 3rd & 16 to begin the Warriors opening drive of the second half. Then after a three and out from Centerville, it appeared Jah’rod Lankford had made another special team’s mistake. After the ball bounced off his hands and Centerville recovered, the referees made the call that the ball never touched Lankford and it still remained Wayne’s football. The Warriors wouldn’t be able to do anything though, as they were forced to punt after another three and out.
On the very next play, Chase Harrison fumbled the ball again. It was forced by Wayne’s Jaylen Lovett and recovered by Adam Trick. “It was a good turn of energy for our team as a whole and the only thing I could think about was that my offense is going to score,” said Lovett after his forced fumble.
Then on 3rd & 3, Ray Greene was stuffed at the line. With 4th down approaching, Roosevelt Mukes rolled the dice and left his offense on the field. Fancher then threw a bullet to Elijah Brown who made a game-changing diving catch to move the chains. Just two plays later, Fancher rolled outside of the pocket and threw a dime on a back-shoulder fade to Brendan Hill for a touchdown. This gave Wayne their first lead of the game as it was now 14-7.
Centerville now looked to tie up the game. Chase Harrison converted on 4th & 3 as he found Ohio State lacrosse commit Matt Mercer wide open for the first down. Then after a pair of sacks to start the 4th quarter, Centerville was forced to settle for a field goal. Jackson Courville’s 30-yard field goal was good to bring Centerville back within one possession.
To begin the Warriors next drive, Jah’rod Lankford broke off a huge 30-yard run to give Wayne great field position. Just a couple plays later, Fancher threw it up to Brendan Hill who made another spectacular catch. The big receiver hauled in his second touchdown of the night to give Wayne a 20-10 lead. Justin Doan’s extra point was no good.
“It felt amazing to go out and have a game like I did Friday night,” said Brendan Hill after his two touchdown performance. “It was a great feeling scoring those 2 touchdowns as they were my first 2 while playing varsity. Coach Donte has been in my ear all year saying that I’m gonna pop out and have the game of my life at some point during this season and I finally had the game. We just have to keep working and get focused for the next game.”
Chase Harrison was looking to bring the Elks back into the game as he rolled outside of the pocket and tossed a pass up to Will Jackson-Linkhart. That pass was tipped up into the air and picked off by Wayne’s Christian Rand. Rand’s incredible play put Wayne in the driver’s seat of this game and allowed them to chew some clock.
“I was happy, but I knew that the game wasn’t over yet,” said Rand when talking about his interception. “It was satisfying seeing all the energy through the sideline and in the crowd. Especially in a game like this with Centerville being our rivals and us playing in the first round that was a great win that we needed and that we’re going to build on.”
Jordan Ward picked up two big first downs for Wayne as he ran over multiple defenders on each run. Ray Greene was met for loss on third down so Wayne was forced to punt but they milked off a lot of time on their drive.
Chase Harrison’s pass to Will Jackson-Linkhart then fell incomplete on 4th & 2 which resulted in a turnover. Wayne chewed off more clock but Fancher missed Elijah Brown who was open in the end-zone on 4th down. This meant Centerville would get the ball back with only around a minute left.
On the very next play, Centerville’s quarterback Chase Harrison underthrew his intended target and Wayne’s Jaden Hurd picked it off. This sealed the victory for Wayne and meant they would move on in the playoffs. “It felt great to know that it was the game winning interception and it was a rush to run over there and celebrate knowing I got another week to play with my brothers.” Said Hurd as he was mobbed by his teammates on the sideline following his game-ending play.
This loss for Centerville will end their season on a heartbreaking note. Harrison will return next season to Centerville for his senior year as he will look to lead a good returning core of their offense from this season.
Wayne will improve to 5-2 with this victory and they will have a rematch against Springfield next Friday in the second round of the playoffs. The Warriors fell to Springfield in Week 1 and a win against them would give them the rematch they’ve been wanting against Northmont.