South Central’s defense stopped Western Reserve quarterback Matt Perkins just short of the goal line as time expired for the 27-24 win Friday. The Roughriders had gashed the Trojans with running plays when they took over at their 46-yard line with 1:54 left in the game and no timeouts.
With the nail-biting win, South Central improved to 3-4 overall and 1-3 for its first Firelands Conference win this season.
“Wow is exactly right. I mean, we got down early; we battled back. In the second half, we got our offense going. Our defense was rolling,” first-year Trojans coach Corey Fickiesen said.
Western fell to 3-4 and 2-2 in the FC.
“Give credit to South Central on homecoming night. They came out with more energy than we did. No. 10 there (South Central junior Cristiana Murphy) played a heckuva football game and I hope he’s OK. It didn’t look good there with the injury,” ’Riders coach Mike Stoll said.
“We gotta start better. It’s two games in a row we haven’t started well.”
Murphy went face down with an undisclosed injury and his legs thrashing just after a South Central fumble to Western with 1:54 left on the clock.
He remained still as paramedics and Huron County sheriff’s deputies came to his side. About 40 minutes later, Murphy was placed on a stretcher, gave the applauding crowd the No. 1 sign and went into a North Central EMS ambulance.
Murphy ended the night with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown catch from quarterback Evan Legg. The 8-yard reception was the last score of the game with 8:05 and the clock, giving South Central its first and only lead of the game.
Fickiesen said when Murphy went down it would have been possible for his team to be down morally, but “we battled back” after big runs by Western running back Gavin Braden in the closing minutes.
Western led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter. Braden scored a TD on a 4-yard run that capped a 70-yard drive with 8:00 in the period.
Dalton Webb booted a 32-yard field goal with 2:34 left in the first stanza. Western had taken over at South Central’s 19-yard line when punter Curtis Fredericks bobbled a snap and took an 18-yard loss.
The Trojans got on the board when Josiah Wright hit a 33-yard field goal, the culmination of an 80-yard drive. It was 10-3 with 10:40 left until halftime.
Western’s Cody Benesh recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to give the visitors a 17-3 lead with 6:14 in the second quarter.
The Trojans took a 63-yard drive to pay dirt when Ben Lamoreaux ran it 4 yards into the end zone with 3:23 until halftime. Western took a 17-10 lead into the locker room.
South Central’s Legg took it 4 yards into the end zone to end an 85-yard drive. That tied the game at 17 with 9:10 in the third quarter.
Western regained the lead when Braden scored his second TD, a 7-yard run on the very next drive. The ’Riders were up 24-17 with 8:07 in the third period.
After a 44-yard punt return by Murphy, Wright kicked a 35-yard field goal. South Central trailed Western 24-20 with 1:12 in the third quarter.
Legg’s 8-yard TD pass to Murphy with 8:05 left in the game was the final score. Through the air, Legg was 18-of-38 for 245 yards and the TD to Murphy. The South Central QB hit six receivers in the first half for 157 yards.
“I’m just proud of my guys and the way they fought and battled all night long,” Fickiesen said.
South Central goes to St. Paul on Oct. 14. Western also faces a FC opponent when the ’Riders host Monroeville on Friday.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger.”