Isaiah Gibson knelt by himself on the Springfield Wildcats logo at midfield at Evans Stadium. All his teammates left the field moments earlier. The senior lineman, who will play for the Kentucky Wildcats next season, took a moment to reflect on the biggest victory of his high school career.
Gibson knew how much time had passed since Springfield had beaten Wayne. A 33-26 overtime victory Friday ended a seven-game losing streak in the series. He also knew who played for the Wildcats on Oct. 1, 2010, when they beat Wayne 28-21 in Huber Heights.
“Trey DePriest and them,” Gibson said. “My boys.”
The Alabama-bound DePriest scored on a 10-yard run to give Springfield a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Then future Ohio State star and Springfield native Braxton Miller took over, leading Wayne to three touchdowns in a three-minute span. It took a 92-yard kickoff return by Springfield’s George Walker to break the tie and help engineer an upset of a Wayne team that would play in the state championship game.
The 2018 game had just as much drama. Wayne erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime only to lose when Springfield’s Raheim Moss threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Larry Stephens on the first play of overtime.
The Warriors couldn’t answer. Minnesota recruit Michael Brown-Stephens broke up a pass in the end zone on 4th-and-9.
“It’s unbelievable,” Gibson said. “We made history. I couldn’t do it without my teammates, my line. I challenged them today. I challenged the offense to make big plays. That’s what we did. We went out and executed.”
Springfield (8-1, 3-0) clinched a playoff berth, its first since 2016, in Division I, Region III, according to JoeEitel.com. The Wildcats also clinched a share of the Great Western Ohio Conference National East Division title for the first time since 2010. They can win it outright for the first time if they beat Fairmont in Week 10.
“It was huge for our kids and the community,” Douglass said. “I’m so happy for those guys. Five years ago, people were saying I was crazy for taking this job. They were 1-9, 0-10, 2-8. It was bad. I just asked the kids, ‘Just believe. I know God has a plan for us.’”
Wayne (5-3, 3-1) saw its four-game winning streak end and fell to 10th in Division I, Region III. It has not been eliminated from playoff contention but will have to beat Trotwood-Madison in Week 10 and get some help. Five of the eight playoff spots have not been clinched. The Warriors have reached the playoffs six years in a row.
Wayne had the lead once in this game, moving in front 16-14 on a 1-yard run by Rashad McKee in the second quarter.
However, an interception by Springfield in the final minute gave it one last chance before the half, and it took advantage. Springfield kicker Braden Carey made a 40-yard field goal, the longest in the history of the new high school, as time expired. That gave the Wildcats a 17-16 lead.
With a 24-yard field goal by Carey and a 5-yard touchdown run by Tavion Smoot in the third quarter, Springfield extended its lead to 26-16.
In the fourth quarter, Wayne tied the game with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Rashad McKee to Steve Victoria and a 28-yard field goal by Trevor Hawley.
“We let an opportunity go,” Wayne coach Jay Minton said. “There’s not anything we can do about it now. Congratulations to Springfield. They fought hard for that. The only thing we can do is bounce back and control next week. Who knows if we’re out of the playoffs. I don’t know. All we can do is fight. We’ve probably got an outside shot if we win next week. That’s easier said than done against Trotwood. I’m proud of our guys. We fought, but we’re making too many inconsistent mistakes to pull a game like that out.”