LEBANON — Brody Wolf improvised, Colton Conover capitalized and the Lebanon Warriors escaped with an improbable 28-24 win over visiting Vandalia Butler on Friday.
The Aviators (3-5) had roared back from a 21-6 deficit, scoring 18 unanswered points in a three-minute span to take a 24-21 lead on Devontre Burks’ 11-yard run with one minute, 43 seconds remaining in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wolf took the squib kick at the 30, ran 10 yards and appeared to be tackled. But on the way down, he lateraled to Conover, who raced 60 yards to paydirt and lifted Lebanon (5-3) from a crushing defeat.
“We needed to make something big happen,” Wolf said. “I was fighting for extra yards, and when they tackled me they turned me around. I saw Colton standing there and just flipped it to him. I don’t know why the thought came to me, it just did.”
Conover wasn’t expecting it either.
“I was just trying to get out in front and block for Brody, and then he got in front of me,” Conover said. “He turned around as he was getting tackled and I saw the look in his eyes and knew the ball was coming. He flipped me the ball and then it was just instinct.
“All I thought about was that I couldn’t get caught from behind. No way was I going to let their kicker catch me. The hardest part was getting back to the sideline with everyone mobbing me.”
Lebanon’s defense — which had surrendered touchdowns on the previous four possessions and been on the field for 32 minutes of game time — stopped Butler at the Warrior 30-yard line as time expired.
Statistically, the Aviators dominated the game. Butler ran for 201 yards, led by Burks who rushed for 175 yards and two scores. Quarterback Ryan Keeler completed 16-of-35 passes for 187 yards and ran for two scores.
Meanwhile, the Lebanon offense struggled. The Warriors gained just 79 yards on the ground, and quarterback Luke Morgan completed just 4-of-14 passes for 125 yards.
Morgan’s 74-yard first quarter scoring strike to Alec Roshek was the only spark the Lebanon offense generated before halftime.
The Warrior defense forced four first half turnovers but only converted one of them into points. That came on a 2-yard run by Aaron Abbott after defensive back Michael Edwards returned an interception to the Butler 6-yard line.
Linebacker Chris Benton led the Lebanon defense with 22 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Kris France also had a fumble recovery.
“We’re very fortunate to walk out of here with a win,” Lebanon coach Shawn Lamb said. “We had two senior captains that decided to make a big play and help the team win at the end. But, we’ll take it and learn from it.”
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