Area temperatures were in the 30s when William Chrisman football coach John Crutcher received his post-victory drenching after Friday night’s 19-13 victory over Truman, but he didn’t mind.
“I don’t feel it (cold water) at all,” Crutcher said. “I’m just excited for our kids. They fought their tails off all night. They battled through some adversity.”
Two turnovers and two clutch catches during the final two minutes helped the Bears (1-7) secure the Wagon Wheel Trophy victory at Independence All-School Stadium/Norm James Field. With the Patriots leading 13-12, the Bears recovered a fumble with 1:36 remaining to set up their go-ahead scoring drive.
Facing fourth-and-10 from the Truman 43-yard line, quarterback Gannon Ogle connected with Michael Johnson for a 33-yard gain. That pass play set up Ogle’s 5-yard TD pass to his younger brother, Grady, with 35.4 seconds left.
“I didn’t think of anything (on that play), I’ll be honest,” the younger Ogle said. “I caught the football. I was so excited.”
According to Crutcher, the catch was a promised fulfilled.
“We’ve been working that play for three weeks and saving it (and) saving it,” he said. “We told Grady that he was going to score on ... that play – and he did. He stepped (up) to the occasion, caught the ball and scored.”
Truman (0-8) had one last chance to win it. The ensuing kickoff return and a facemask penalty against Chrisman put the Patriots in Chrisman territory. But with Truman facing third-and-15 from the Chrisman 45, Bears defensive back Mason Atagi intercepted Dean Clemons’ pass.
“I kind of knew the guy he was throwing to, so I just covered that way and it was there,” Atagi said.
One kneel-down later, Chrisman’s student body stormed midfield and shot talcum powder in the air, the Bears received the Wagon Wheel Trophy and Crutcher received his postgame bath.
Through the first half, however, it appeared the Patriots would hoist the trophy. On their opening possession, they drove 65 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Clemons’ 1-yard TD run and Brenden Chandler’s extra-point kick capped the drive.
Chrisman then staged an eight-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped by Bret Wolf’s 18-yard TD run with 8:58 left in the second quarter. But Ben Gilliland’s PAT kick went wide left, and the Patriots carried their one-point lead into halftime.
D’Vontae Brown’s 2-yard TD run with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter made it 12-7 Chrisman. Brown — who amassed 141 yards on 20 carries and set up his TD run with a 37-yard screen pass from Gannon Ogle — was Friday night’s hero, Crutcher said.
“If it weren’t for D’Vontae Brown’s hard running all night long on offense, we wouldn’t have won that game,” Crutcher said.
The Patriots reclaimed the lead by staging a 10-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Phillip Woolsey’s 5-yard TD pass from Clemons with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. They got the ball again on downs with 1:42 remaining, only to fumble away the ball to set up the Ogle-to-Ogle TD pass and Gilliland’s extra point.
“(I) didn’t think we could just kneel it and run it out,” Patriots coach Gregg Webb said. “They were going to get the ball back, and they’d been awful close on a couple of punts – and so, I just decided to see if we could stretch the field a little bit and run enough time off to where we could run it out.”
One turnover and one Chrisman kneel-down later, Webb was in the Truman locker room, consoling his players. It’s more difficult to give a postgame talk after a close loss to a crosstown rival than it is other losses, he admitted.
“You could tell it meant something to the kids,” Webb said. “It wasn’t like playing Park Hill, where there’s no connection there.”
“They have to live with these (Chrisman) kids a little bit,” he added. “They might see them in the area at a mall or something like that. It’s just a football game, but to a high school kid, it’s a pretty big deal.”