WINTERSVILLE - Coaches look to their seniors to make special plays in big games.
Friday night at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, Indian Creek senior Alex Young made one of those special plays against Harrison Central to secure a 33-21 Redskins victory that helped solidify their postseason aspirations.
With the Redskins leading 26-21, the Huskies began a march from their own 33-yard line with 6:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. After 14 plays and three penalties the Huskies had a third-and-18 at the Indian Creek 20. Quarterback Rashaen Mitchell lofted a pass to the left sideline where Young made a break, stepped in front of the intended receiver at the 4, and then raced 96 yards the other way for the score with 48 seconds left to ice the game. Fernando Prestes knocked home the PAT for the final margin.
''It's one of those things where you want your senior leaders to make plays, and I think our seniors played their butts off,'' Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said. ''Alex stepped in front, he made a good break on the ball, and he does what he does in space. You want kids to make a plays, and he made a big one.''
Added Harrison Central coach Justin Kropka, ''He's a great player. He's been their difference maker all year. We got put in a situation where we had to throw that one, we put it up, gave our kid a chance, and that's what happened. That's all.''
Indian Creek began the scoring in the back-and-forth affair in the opening quarter. The Redskins took three plays and 44 seconds to reach the end zone with Young hitting Frankie Kamarec, who went up over the defensive back, for a 34-yard score for a 6-0 lead.
The Huskies answered back on the ensuing possession, going 70 yards on 11 plays. Mitchell hit Niko Williams and Nick Pelegreen for 15 and 16 yards, respectively, and Maurtice Hython scored from 5 yards out to complete the drive for a 7-6 lead.
Harrison (5-3) went right back to work, this time going 58 yards in eight plays, capped by Mitchell's 8-yard scoring toss to Nate Olmstead for a 14-6 halftime lead.
The third quarter's lone score belonged to the Redskins. Going 78 yards in 13 plays and eating 6:02 off the clock, the Redskins scored from 29 yards out when Young and Kamarec connected for their second score but the 2-point pass failed and it was 14-12.
Shane Winland and the defense gave the offense the ball right back with a three-and-out. After Hython was stopped for a 2-yard loss on first down, Winland pulled Mitchell down for back-to-back sacks to force the Huskies punt from their 14.
Three plays later Creek regained the lead. On third-and-8 Young connected with Mandella Lawrence for a 44-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Young ran in the 2-point conversion to make the score 20-14 Redskins.
''You have to take what the other team is giving you,'' Connor said. ''They were committed to stopping the run and I thought our receivers and Alex did a good job of taking what they could get.''
It took the Huskies three plays to respond. Hython took a handoff on first-and-10, broke a few tackles, and raced 62 yards for the score for a 21-20 Harrison lead.
''I think some mental mistakes we made kind of took us out of our rhythm on offense, but other than that when they scored I thought we responded,'' Kropka said. ''I thought we had a nice drive after they scored to take the lead on us to take the lead back.
''That's high school football. There were two teams going at it, and we just didn't make the plays at the end of the game.''
Creek had an answer as Young and Lawrence had rushes of 14 and 13 yards, respectively, and Logan Woods punched in from 3 yards out on fourth-and-inches for six points. Young was called out of bounds on the conversion, but the Redskins led 26-21 leading to the late-game heroics.
Young led the Indian Creek (7-1) offense with 138 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Redskins rushing attack accounted for 155 yards on 40 run plays. Blake Roar led the team with 47 yards.
Hython carried the ball 27 times for 168 yards and two scores to top the Huskies. Their ground attack accumulated 228 yards on 44 rushes. Mitchell threw for 91 yards, a touchdown, and a pick.