On a picture-perfect autumn Friday night, Eric Page did about all he could to ruin homecoming for Anthony Wayne.
Springfield's Mr. Excitement rushed for 199 yards on 32 carries, including dazzling touchdown runs of 69, 7, 3 and 11 yards. The one-man defense demolisher also passed for 173 yards by completing 13 of 17 passes, including a 12-yard touchdown toss to Ray Watson.
However, Page's latest highlight reel performance concluded with AW's Sean Lubinski and a host of defensive companions chasing him on a two-point conversion attempt with 32 seconds left in the game. Lubinski's pressure forced Page out of the pocket and to flinging a desperation pass toward the end zone. It fell incomplete to lock up a 34-33 victory for the Generals.
'It was a great game and that's what high school sports is all about,' AW coach Craig Smith said. 'Fortunately we were one point better.'
The Generals (5-3, 3-2 Northern Lakes League) and the Blue Devils (4-4, 2-3) traded jabs throughout a contest in which the offenses, particularly the running games, ruled.
However, when it came to determining the winner the Generals came through with the defensive stop that counted the most.
'We made a great play on a great player,' Smith said.
The Blue Devils were in position to go for the win after Page led the way on a seven-play, 73-yard scoring drive in the final minute. He capped the drive with an 11-yard TD scramble to make it a 34-33 game with AW holding the one-point edge.
Springfield, which could have attempted to tie the score with an extra-point kick, opted to go for the two-point conversion and the win on the road.
'We discussed what we would do and we wanted to go for two,' Springfield coach Dave Connelly said. 'It was a unanimous decision we were going to go for the win.'
The Generals defense rose to the occasion and refused to allow the Blue Devils to spoil the night's festivities.
Jordan Schwerer and David Birsen played major roles in the Generals overcoming Page's yeoman effort.
Schwerer gained a team-leading 126 yards on 10 carries, including touchdown scampers of 22 and 26 yards. Birsen finished with 91 yards on 16 carries, including touchdown runs of 9 and 10 yards.
Schwerer's second trip into the end zone came with less than four minutes remaining in the game to put AW ahead 32-27. The Generals were successful on their two-point conversion try when Kevin Pindoley found Schwerer open in the end zone to give them a 34-27 lead with 3:49 left in the game.
The pass to Schwerer was only the second attempt of the night for Pindoley, who connected with Aaron Keyer for a key 34-yard completion on a fourth-and-four play during what turned out to be the game-winning scoring drive.
'I was ready,' said Pindoley of his two timely fourth-quarter completions. 'I was looking forward to it [the completion to Keyer]. It was a great call in the press box. It was a total team effort.'
Keyer ran behind Springfield's Tyler Grogg and made a diving catch to sustain AW's final scoring drive of the night.
'I had to go big or go home,' Keyer said of his reception. 'I went big and it's a great team win. It's a big league win for us. They probably have the best player in the state on their team.'
AW's James Pollex added 60 yards on the ground on 14 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.