Ahead 20-10 with the second quarter winding down and on the verge of going up three scores, Wayne’s road to 3-0 took a hit when an apparent first down inside the 5-yard line was fumbled out of the end zone.
With 49 seconds left, Lakota West quarterback Malik Grove capped a game-changing drive by scoring on a 6-yard run with one second left before half. Grove wasn’t supposed to run.
“Don’t let him fool you,” an elated Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said. “That wasn’t the play I called. He did that. He dialed that up.”
As a result, Lakota West dialed up a resounding 31-27 road win at Heidkamp Stadium in a matchup of GWOC and GMC powers.
The Firebirds road the momentum of their late first-quarter score into the second half and scored the game-winning touchdown when Grove hit running back Mikel Horton for a 27-yard touchdown with 1:18 to go.
Wayne marched down the field and had first-and-10 at the West 13, but a penalty and three incompletions ended the drive.
“What a big swing that was,” Wayne head coach Jay Minton said of the Firebirds second quarter-closing score. “That was huge.”
So was the play of Grove and Horton.
Grove ran for 92 yards and two TDs on 19 carries and completed 12-of-23 passes for 232 yards and a TD. Horton, who is headed to Kentucky, carried the ball 18 times for 75 yards and a TD. He caught three passes for 66 yards.
Wayne threatened several times in the first half to separate itself from West, but penalties and the untimely turnover allowed the visitors to hang around.
In the second half, the Firebirds defense forced the issue, especially in the third quarter.
Opening the game with nine straight completions, Wayne junior quarterback D’Mitrik Trice misfired on his first seven attempts of the second half and was 8-of-21 in the final 24 minutes.
Running back Trey McFadden led Wayne with 147 yards rushing on 19 carries. Receiver Devin Reed, who scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and a 16-yard TD pass, was carted off the field with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter after landing awkward on an incompletion. Minton said after the game Reed was talking and moving his extremities.
Trice finished 20-of-35 for 269 yards and three TDs.
“It’s all about production,” Minton said. “Tonight we didn’t produce.”
Said Cox, whose team did: “This is one of our biggest road wins ever. Not many people come to Wayne and win. We’re going to take a lot of pride in that.’