Wayne senior Connor Runyon tackles Kole Seales for a loss with Hunter Clark, 30, also in pursuit. The Falcons upset 10th ranked East Union 48-26. Photo by Jason Selby
WAYNE SCORES FIRST 28 POINTS AGAINST 7-1 EAGLES, BEFORE SENIOR TREVOR WILSON RETURNS FROM A KNEE INJURY TO HELP HIS TEAM HOLD OFF HUGE COMEBACK, 48-26
While the Falcons may have already been eliminated from playoff contention, they had a point to prove on Oct. 21 against 10th-ranked East Union.
Wayne jumped all over the Eagles early, capitalizing on several of their opponent’s turnovers. In the 1st half, freshman quarterback Chasen Kiefer, looking as comfortable in the pocket as he has all year, threw 2 touchdown passes, and senior Trevor Wilson scored 3 touchdowns, including a 43-yard reception that put the Falcons up 28-0.
But with less than a minute to play in the 2nd quarter, East Union scored a touchdown to narrow the margin to 28-8. It was the spark the Eagles needed.
In the 3rd quarter, back to punt, Wilson could not handle a bad snap. He ran up the left sideline instead, almost reaching a 1st down, but was knocked out of the game with a knee injury.
With Wayne’s most versatile player on the sidelines, East Union scored 3 more touchdowns, narrowing the score to 28-26 on a long touchdown pass. But the Falcons came up with one of their biggest defensive plays of the game, stuffing a run on the 2-point conversion attempt to maintain the lead.
Wilson came back into the game after watching the Eagles outscore Wayne 18-0 in his absence. It led to the Falcons’ most important drive of the season.
On 3rd down and long deep in their own territory, Kiefer went back to pass and was forced to scramble left. He hit a diving Troy Arnold who stuck his foot inbounds for a 14-yard reception and a 1st down.
Later, facing 4th down and 4 on East Union’s side of the field, Nick Mattly slipped out of the backfield, and Kiefer hooked up with the senior for a 31-yard touchdown pass. When Kiefer converted on the biggest 2-point run of the season, Wayne had taken a 2-possession lead and essentially put East Union away. It was all but over after Mattly made a spectacular diving interception on the Eagles’ ensuing drive.
The Falcons scored 2 more late touchdowns, Wilson scoring his 4th touchdown and Hunter Cobb forcing a fumble on special teams that Stetson Baker returned 25 yards for another touchdown, making the final score 48-26. The loss eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs.
It was a poetic victory for Wayne. Despite an injury-plagued autumn, the coaching staff had their team playing its best at the end of the season, and in so doing matched the 6-3 record of the first Falcons football team from 50 years ago.
“This was an outstanding game to finish out the season,” head coach Bart Elliott said. “I was especially proud of our seniors. This was a great way for them to go out.
“I was very proud of the way we played. We got off to a great start, didn’t get down on ourselves when they came back, and finished off by playing 4 quarters of very good football. Our guys were exhausted after the game—they gave it everything they had. To knock East Union out of the playoffs and finish 6-3 was very rewarding for our team.”
Making the feat that much more impressive, Wayne was playing without senior and starting center Kyle Andrews, who broke his leg in Wayne’s win last week at Murray.
“Spencer Buban did a great job filling in at center,” Elliott said. “Along with the rest of the offensive line, [they] created holes and gave us time in the passing game.
“Chase Kiefer played his best game of the season, throwing for over 100 yards and 3 TDs. He also had several key scrambles for 1st downs.
“Trevor Wilson rushed for over 100 yards to finish with over 1,000 yards rushing for the season in only 8 games.
“Our defense and special teams forced 6 turnovers, which dramatically changed the momentum of the game. Our defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game, which helped slow their offense down.”
Wayne got in East Union’s backfield all night, recording 7 sacks.
“Nick Mattly led the way on defense,” Elliott said. “He was in on 16 tackles and had 2 fumble recoveries and 1 Interception.”
In his last game in only 3 quarters of play, Wilson gained 207 total yards. He rushed for 108 yards on 31 carries with 3 touchdowns, caught 2 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown, returned 2 kicks for 40 yards, punted twice with a 33-yard average including 1 kick pinning the Eagles on their own 2-yard line, and made 4 tackles.
Mattly saved his best overall game for last, catching 2 touchdown passes for 36 yards, rushing for 23 yards on 5 carries, and had an excellent game on defense including the interception.
Kiefer passed for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception, and rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries.
Cobb, a sophomore, led the defense with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks, while forcing the fumble that led to Baker’s touchdown, adding 5 rushing yards.
Besides the big 3rd down catch, Arnold wrecked havoc on the defensive line, recording 4 tackles and being part of 3 sacks.
Connor Runyon also finished out his career with a big game on both sides of the line, making 5 tackles with 1.5 sacks. Buban had 4 tackles and 1 sack.
Senior Alex Chapman caught 1 pass for 5 yards and was 3rd on the team with 7 tackles, recovering 1 fumble. He returned 2 punts for 33 yards.
Hunter Clark had 4 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. He filled in nicely during Wilson’s absence, returning 3 kickoffs for 50 yards.
Baker, Matt Bellon and senior Isaiah Bradford each recorded 1 tackle. Bellon was also solid on kickoff duty with 2 touchbacks.