Dover — Throughout Friday night’s regional football game, Western Boone had chances to make what could have been a game-changing play.
But every time, it seemed like the Stars were just an inch away, and in the end Scecina was able to hold-off a late Western Boone rally to claim the regional title 48-33 over the Stars.
Western Boone’s season ends with a 9-4 record.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way tonight,” Western Boone head coach Justin Pelley said. “It was there on the ground a couple times, and we had some chances, but they came up with it. We had troubles stopping them tonight, and you have to credit them for that. It is a Ott Hurrle coached team, and they aren’t going to make any mistakes.”
The Stars dug themselves a hole early.
After Western Boone went three-and-out on their opening drive, Scecina scored six plays later on a 24-yard run by Cobie Dilliard to take a 6-0 later. The Stars threw an interception three plays into the ensuing drive, and the Crusaders took advantage, going up 12-0 on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mac Ayres to Jack Wright.
The Stars got on the board on a 2-yard Garrett Miller touchdown, and got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but the drive stalled near midfield.
Scecina marched 82 yards in 12 plays, plus got a key pass interference call on the Stars when it was third-and-10 from the WeBo 40, and took an 18-7 lead into the half after an 8-yard run by Andrew Lowery.
Pelley said the Stars didn’t have to make many adjustments on the offensive end at halftime, just had to take what the Crusaders were giving them.
“We didn’t make many adjustments, we just have to morph into what they are giving us,” Pelley said. “We got behind in the clock and the points, so we had to spread it out and throw it more. Spencer can throw it pretty well, and we had some receivers make some big plays tonight. Early on, they couldn’t stop us running the ball, but we couldn’t stay with that because we had to score quickly.”
The second half became a shoot-out.
Scecina took a 26-7 lead on the opening kick-off of the second half, when Lowery returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
Miller punched it in from 6-yards out on the next drive to make it 26-13. Five plays later, Ayres connected with Wright for a 40-yard score to make it 34-13, but Spencer Wright connected with Logan Benson for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-20 with 1:40 left in the third.
Once again the Crusaders had the answer, with Ayres throwing his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to David Baker from 18 yards out to make it 41-20 with 8:50 to play.
Ayres finished the game 18 of 29 for 244 yards and three scores. The Crusaders added 174 yards rushing.
The 48 points was the most allowed by the Stars this season and the most since 54 to Tri-West in the 2014 sectional final.
“They are very dynamic,” Pelley said. “Their quarterback throws it well and they spread you out, and their backs just go. That is a credit to them. I am surprised it was high scoring on both sides, I didn’t think it would be that kind of game. They moved the ball, but we moved the ball pretty easily as well, we just got behind too much early.”
Western Boone didn’t go down without a fight. Wright connected with Logan Benson for a 53-yard touchdown to make it 41-26 with 8:03 left.
The Stars just missed getting the ensuing onside kick, but the defense rose to the occasion anyway and forced a three-and-out. Western Boone needed 13 plays to get within a score, with Wright sneaking it in from one yard out to make it 41-33 with 4:23 to go.
“That just shows the character of this team,” Pelley said. “I’m sure a lot of people wrote us off when we got down three scores. But our kids don’t look at it that way and we have done a good job mentality wise to where our kids always know they have a shot if there is time on the clock. We did some good things tonight moving the ball, but they did too.”
Scecina drove down to the Western Boone 29 with 2:30 to play, but it appeared the Stars got the stop on a fourth-and-12. But the ref on the far side of the field called pass interference on WeBo, keeping the Scecina drive alive. Out of timeouts, the Stars nearly got the break they needed when Lowery fumbled two plays later, but the Crusaders were able to grab the ball and added a late touchdown for the final margin.
Wright was 16 of 30 for 276 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Miller rushed 18 times for 96 yards and two scores.
Benson caught six passes for 131 yards and two scores. While it wasn’t the ending they wanted, Pelley said it was a great year for Stars.
“I will reflect a lot more later, but it was a great ride,” Pelley said. “It has been a grind, but a fun grind. With these kids, it was fun to come to work every day. That is why I’m here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I am proud of them; just really, really proud of all of them.”
The Stars were playing in the regional for the first time since 2001.
Pelley said this senior class has helped lay the foundation for the future.
“This senior class is monumental is how they led,” Pelley said. “It is a good feeling as a football coach to come in and not have to worry about a lot of things that a lot of coaches have to worry about. That is a credit to our seniors because they do things the right way and that trickles down. The younger kids have seen them do it, they know how to win and they have passed that down. But it is more their character than anything. We have a lot of great kids who are going to be successful in life.”