United wins nail biter at Hayworth
HEYWORTH - For the second time in as many weeks, the United Red Storm found a way to survive inside their own 5-yard line in the game's waning moments to advance in the IHSA Class 1A playoffs.
United pulled out another close victory when Matt Grubb recovered a fumble by Heyworth's Ben Asmus at the United 3-yard line with 55 seconds left to preserve a 28-27 victory. A week ago, the Red Storm stuffed a 2-point conversion try on the final play of overtime to hold off Flanagan 21-20.
Trailing for the first time in the game 27-21 after Asmus scored on a 62-yard run with 1:18 to go in the third quarter, United went on a dramatic season-saving drive. Starting at its 20 yard line, the Red Storm drove 80 yards in 8:17 on 15 plays to reclaim the lead, converting on fourth down three times during the drive.
Twice the Red Storm uncharacteristically converted through the air. The final conversion came on fourth-and-goal from the 9-yard line with just over five minutes to play. Quarterback Zach Steele hit tight end Josh Winston on a crossing pattern for the score.
"I lost it in the sun and just turned around and waited for it," Winston said. "It was my first varsity touchdown."
Steele said the play was a dream come true.
"It was a play you always want to do," Steele said.
Winston's extra point gave the Red Storm their margin of victory, but the drama wasn't over.
Heyworth's 6-foot-2, 210 pound back Jase Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to the Hornet's 35 and the combination of Wilson and Asmus dissected the United defense on a drive that eventually reached the Red Storm 5-yard line for a third-and-two with just over a 1:30 to play.
Heyworth's quarterback, Spencer Campbell, fumbled the snap, but dove forward to recover at the 3-yard line for a first down with 1:22 left. Facing a first-and-goal, prospects looked bleak for the Red Storm. Then, for the third time this season, providence turned the Red Storm's way in a game's final seconds.
Asmus took a toss on a sweep left. The Red Storm bottled up the quick Heyworth back forcing him to cut back inside. As Asmus stretched the ball towards the United goal line on second effort with the Red Storm's Christian Schrader holding on, Sheldon Welch knocked the ball loose and Grubb dove on it to save the game for the Red Storm.
"We said to each other (in the huddle) 'We can't quit. We can't quit now," Winston said.
Red Storm coach Tim Engetbretson said the final few minutes were tough.
"To be honest we were kind of hoping they would score quick, to give us time to come back," Engebretson said. "You can't let them do that, because something like this might happen. It is too bad somebody had to lose this game and it had to end on a fumble like that."
The coach said one aspect of his team made the difference in the game.
"You can't say enough about the resilience of these kids," Engebretson said. "They make mistakes, they are human, but they find a way. They came through again this week."
Olin led United with 97 yards on 22 carries and three scores. Sophomore Geoffrey Hahn gained 101 yards on 11 carries and scored once, but fumbled twice. Zach Steele had his best day as the varsity quarterback, 4-of-5 for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively for United, Erik Watson had 10 tackles while Welch had nine.
For Heyworth Wilson gained 163 yards on 17 carries while Asmus gained 147 on 11. Campbell completed 1-of-4 for 14 yards.
Andrew Schultz led the Hornet's defense with nine tackles.
United led 21-13 at halftime on a 3-yard touchdown run from Hahn while Olin scored twice on runs on one and two yards
Heyworth scored in the first half on a 30-yard run from Wilson in the first quarter and 2-yard run from Campbell in the second. The extra point after Campbell's score was wide-left. It was a miss that would eventually prove costly for the Hornets.
The Red Storm received the second half kickoff and appeared to be moving down the field with relative ease before Hahn fumbled to give the ball and momentum to the Hornets. Heyworth scored on 2-of-3 possessions to take their short-lived 27-21 lead.
The Hornets finished the season 7-4 while No. 2 seeded United (10-1) will take on No. 1 seeded Lexington 11-0 in the quarterfinals next week. Lexington advanced with a 20-12 win over LeRoy Saturday afternoon.
"We were really lucky," Grubb said. "We have to stop winning by one point."
It did not appear, however, that any of the large contingent of "Storm Chasers," nor any of the coaches or players really minded being wrung through the stringer for a second consecutive playoff victory.