Waite had no timeouts and 80 seconds left to stage a come-from-behind win Friday night. Junior quarterback Javon Pratt did it by hitting his cousin, Alex Boose, on a 12-yard touchdown pass to lift the Indians to a 30-28 victory against visiting Clay on the final play of the game.
Boose, the smallest player on the field at 5-feet-3, made the three biggest plays in the closing seconds, catching passes of 16 and 17 yards to set up his winning score, twisting and lunging across the goal line as time expired in this East Side battle for the Oil Barrel Trophy.
“I just wanted to make a play,” Boose said of the score. “I had a lot of confidence in myself. I didn’t know I was going to get there. I just stretched out.”
Pratt had ignited the winning drive with a 30-yard kickoff return, then found his cousin to produce the win.
“I guarantee you half the crowd thought it was over,” Pratt said of the winning drive. “Coach [Brian Lee] said, ‘Believe in yourself, and put this team on your back. Do what you best, and lead this team to the end zone.’ That’s what I did.
“I love that kid [Boose] to death. I tell him, ‘If you believe in me, I believe in you.’ On that last drive I asked him, ‘Can you please, please get open? I’m looking for you.’ He did what he was supposed to do.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Waite 30, Clay 28
Now teammates, the two were opponents a few years back in the East Toledo Junior Football League — Pratt at Garfield Elementary and Boose at Birmingham.
Their current union allowed Waite to achieve its first 3-0 start to a season in 30 years, that under 25-year-old first-year head coach Lee.
“I told Pratt to trust himself,” Lee said. “He’s a leader, and he’s a captain. Alex Boose gave me his all. He’s only 5-3, and he’s leading our team in tackles, receptions, and interceptions. I love that kid, and I love the East Side.
“My kids faced adversity tonight. That was a very good Clay team that is very well coached. They gave us all we could handle, but we prevailed. We’re going to keep prevailing. I’m blessed to be in the [East Toledo zip code 43605], and blessed to be the coach at Waite High School. I promise you there’s going to be more good things to come from us. This is just a start.”
Pratt rushed for 128 yards, and was 12-of-19 passing for 140 yards.
“I always believe in myself, and the coaches believe in me,” Pratt said. “Anything is possible. I believe this is our year. This was a battle. It was a brawl. They punched us in the mouth early, and we punched them back. It was Clay-Waite football.”
The win spoiled a tremendous effort from Clay senior Adam Ummel, who had given the Eagles a 28-24 lead with 1:20 remaining on a 9-yard scoring run, his third touchdown of the game.
“We scored there and were feeling good,” Clay coach John Galyas said. “We had a four-point lead and they had no timeouts. I’m very disappointed that we couldn’t close the door on them and finish the job. But, credit to them. It was a great drive on their part.
“This was back and forth, and the atmosphere was great. I just wish we would’ve gotten it done. That’s all. These [losses] stay with you for a while.”
Ummel (11 carries, 139 yards) earlier had found the end zone on an 80-yard run that put the Eagles up 14-6 in the second quarter, and added a third-quarter score on a 58-yard screen pass from sophomore quarterback Logan Heintschel. That put Clay ahead 21-18.
Waite had gone up 24-21 in the back-and-forth battle when Pratt hit Marcus Hannah on a 3-yard pass with 4:08 left. Hannah set up that score when he intercepted Heintschel, who was 9-for-24 for 140 yards passing, and returned the ball 18 yards to the Eagles’ 4.
In a game that saw six lead changes, Clay struck first, capitalizing on the first of Waite’s three first-half turnovers. On fourth-and-2 from their 28, the Indians tried a fake-punt play but lost a fumble on a handoff.
The Eagles recovered and six plays later, Heintschel rammed in from a yard out as Clay took a 7-0 lead with 2:38 left in the first.
Waite responded with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped on Pratt’s 1-yard keeper to pull the Indians within 7-6 with 9:47 to go in the half.
Ummel, who blocked the extra-point kick attempt by Waite’s Braden Mapes, extended the Eagles’ lead one play later.
He bolted through the middle of the Waite line and outran the Indians’ secondary on his 80-yard touchdown.
After the teams exchanged lost fumbles, the Indians answered by driving 57 yards in 11 plays, scoring on an improvised fourth-and-goal play from the Clay 6.
Pratt started right, scrambled back left, then found Hannah open in the left corner of the end zone for the score to get Waite within 14-12 with 3:18 remaining before halftime.
“It was amazing,” Hannah said of the late-game heroics. “It was crazy. The coaches told me all week, ‘Just put your hands up and you’ll get a pick.’ This feels unbelievable. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
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