“You’re fourth-and-forever. What do you call?” Budde said.
Quarterback Justin Agner pitched it back to Alex Motsinger, the versatile athlete who also serves as an occasional quarterback, who then heaved the ball 40 yards downfield, where Reagan Amos somehow caught the ball between two defenders at the Wheeler 37. The Wolverines punched it in two plays later on a 22-yard Deonte Robinson touchdown run with 42 seconds left, for the deciding score in the Wolverines’ 53-49 victory.
“Right when we snapped it, I’m thinking, maybe this isn’t the best call, maybe they won’t bite up because we threw the ball behind the line of scrimmage,” Budde said. “But they bit up and Alex Motsinger, with a cast on his hand, throws the ball downfield, and Reagan Amos comes up with the big catch. I’ll tell you what, our kids really played hard and had a lot of heart, and that’s what I love them for.”
The late drama was set up after Wheeler (2-7, 0-6 Region 5AAAAAA) took its first lead of the game on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ryles Kirkland to Billy Polakowski. Kirkland then converted a 2-point conversion, in which he went up and completely over a defender into the end zone.
“Unfortunately, some team had to lose (Friday) and, unfortunately, it had to be us,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “(Kirkland) played with a lot of heart (Friday). I feel like he tried to step up and be our guy. I thought the guys rallied around him. Just unfortunate we came up a little bit short.”
Woodstock (3-6, 2-4) jumped out to a 31-14 halftime lead thanks to the efforts of Agner, who ran for a 22-yard touchdown and connected with Garrett Atkinson on a 31-yard touchdown pass. Robinson was the Wolverines’ most consistent playmaker in the second half as the junior had 131 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in the final two periods.
Wheeler was penalized six times for 38 yards in the opening half and had a costly turnover towards the end of the second quarter.
In an effort to extend a third-down play, Kirkland attempted a pass inside his own territory as he was being tackled. That decision would prove to be costly as Woodstock defensive lineman Daniel Benetez snatched the errant pass out of the air and returned it 37 yards for the touchdown to push the Wolverine lead to 31-7.
Despite the interception, Kirkland’s play sparked the Wildcats offense throughout the game. He finished with 286 yards passing and four touchdowns, while also adding 96 rushing yards. Harland Howell victimized the Woodstock secondary for touchdown catches of 35, 5 and 62 yards.