By RICK SOLEM
Five points, 3 minutes, 67 yards, 3,000 fans and the 88th meeting for one ark - no problem.
Call them the odd couple: a 5-foot-10, 155-pound quarterback named Mitchell Schreiner and his 230-pound running back, Calvin Wright.
The two led Logan High School’s football team to a ridiculous fourth-quarter, winning drive – capped off by a Wright 11-yard touchdown with 37 seconds remaining - to take the Ark of Victory in the intra-city rivalry over Central, 30-20.
Johnson’s touchdown gave the Rangers (4-1, 3-0) a 23-20 lead and Aric Elmore capped it off with a 48-yard interception return on the ensuing possession at UW-L’s Veterans Memorial Field on Friday.
The interception return sealed it, but it was the drive that won this one and one unselfish decision by the quarterback that not many players would make.
The choice came with under 45 seconds to go, Logan down 20-15 and 11 yards away from the end zone. Schreiner decided he didn’t need the glory. A win would suffice.
“I went over and (coach Casey Knoble) asked, ‘What pass do you want to throw?’ “ Schreiner said, describing the discussion during the final time out. ”Coach had the confidence in me, but they knew we were trying to throw. I said, ‘Let’s get it to Calvin. He’s been running hard all night.
“We just figured we could get one to pop. We had time outs. And sure enough, it was wide open for him.”
Out of the timeout, the Rangers handed it off right up the gut to the big fella for the 11-yard score. It’s something they did all night, but, with such little time remaining, it came as a surprise to Central … and Wright.
“I was surprised (they called the play for me), but they had faith in me just like I had faith in my team,” said Wright, who finished with 80 yards on 19 carries. “It was a trap - nice and easy. I saw a gap, hit it and went into the end zone.”
Schreiner was 5-for-6 on the final drive. Four of those were right on the money, but the screen pass for a first to Wright? Not the prettiest.
The rush was closing in on Schreiner and Wright had gotten himself spun around. So, instead of taking a sack, the quarterback just lofted it up like a lob to the post in basketball and hoped for the best.
“It definitely was up there for a while,” Wright said with a laugh.
“He’s a wrestler,” Schreiner said, also laughing. “He’s not used to the post (lob) pass.”
Nobody could tell. Wright wearing No. 25 because his No. 49 jersey was ripped in half - an indication of how he ran and how grueling this game was - found the ball and his way to an 11-yard gain.
Schreiner hit Peter Heglund-Lohman for 12 next. That was the senior’s second conversion – the first, a 15-yarder to convert a third down. Wright followed with a 9-yard run, before a 5-yard reception to Elmore, converting another third down, to set set up the winning run.
Heading into the final drive, Logan had zero momentum. Central (3-2, 1-2) just waltzed 66 yards down the field, capped off by a 9-yard touchdown by Lamont Murphy, who finished with 126 yards rushing.
So, no momentum and in need of six, Schreiner was nervous, but that’s what coaches and teammates are for.
“Before we started the drive, Noble calmed me down and told me it would be alright,” Schreiner said. “I told the boys, there’s 3 minutes and we can do it. I looked in their eyes and saw they were ready to go.”
He finished 10-for-13 for 123 yards. Logan ended up with 111 yards rushing to Central’s 222.
HEGLUND-LOHMAN SAVED THE GAME: Aside from him having two first down conversions on the final drive, it was his defensive play that won the game … his defensive play as a wide receiver. Schreiner was 5-for-6 on the final drive, but Logan was 5-for-7 as a team. The other incompletion came on a pitch-pass by Elmore to Heglund-Lohman. The senior was open, but Central’s Ben Thronton closed the gap. In fact, Thornton had the ball in his hands before Heglund-Lohman knocked it away as if he were the defensive back.
A PERSONAL FOUL NEARLY COST EVERYTHING: Central, down 15-14 early in the fourth quarter was driving and it was apparent Logan wasn’t stopping it. On a play-action option pass, Red Raiders’ quarterback Mitchell Martin-Johnson had Thornton wide open, but had to throw across the field to get it to him. The ball didn’t make it. Logan’s Zach Hoeth picked it off near Logan's 10, but a roughing the passer penalty negated the play. The next play, however, Murphy fumbled and Elmore recovered.
TURNOVERS: This looks like the true difference in the game, but consider the outcomes. Central had four fumbles and lost three to go along with two interceptions – though the final one came with under 30 seconds to go and the Red Raiders in desperation passing mode, down 23-20. None of the fumbles, however led to scores, but both interceptions did. Along with Elmore’s 48-yard return to seal it was Levi Kotek's interception of Central QB Johnson-Martin. On the ensuing play, Logan went for the kill. Schreiner hit Jarrod Besl for a 30-yard touchdown to put them up 15-14.
MORE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Central scored on its first drive: a Murphy 9-yard option where he got the corner and laid out for the pylon. The Red Raiders also scored on their fourth drive: a 16-yard TD reception from Martin-Johnson to 6-foot-4 Alex Hayden in the back corner of the end zone with 7 seconds to go in the half. But a holding penalty brought back a 35-yard touchdown by Murphy on their third drive of the first half. Central’s second-half possessions ended like this: INT, fumble, fumble TD, INT.
THE ARK: It remains at Logan, which won 16-0 last year (and again 47-22 in the playoffs). The match up between Central and Logan dates back to 1928. This was the 88th meeting. Despite the win - the 9th out of the last 10, in fact - the Rangers still have a ways to go to even the series, which stands at 44-37-7 in Central's favor.
LOGAN 23, CENTRAL 20
Central 8 6 0 6 - 20
Logan 8 0 7 15 - 30
C-Lamont Muphry 9 run (Mitchell Johnson-Martin run), 5:59.
L-Calvin Wright 1 run (Wright run), :01.
C-Alex Hayden 16 pass from Mitchel Johnson-Martin (pass fail), :07.
L-Jarrod Besl 30 pass from Schriener (Peter Heglund-Lohman kick), 10:41.
C-Murphy 9 run (run failed), 3:00.
L-John Chase 11 run (Elmore from Schreiner)), 37.3.
L-Elmore 42 interception return (Hegland-Lohman kick), :02.