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HARRISON, Ohio – Senior quarterback Jake Weber threw for 171 yards and all three Harrison touchdowns in the Wildcats’ season-debut victory.
Weber’s high-octane performance sparked a second-half surge and comeback to help Harrison win the battle for border supremacy, 21-17 on Friday.
With touchdown receptions by Mitchell Hogue and two by Alex Anderson, the terrific trio left East Central defenders having to key on three offensive weapons.
“We found out who are playmakers are tonight,” Harrison coach Keith McCullough said. “When the game was on the line, the kids stepped up and made plays.”
After a sluggish first quarter that had no scoring action, the second quarter scoring saw Harrison’s Weber connect with Anderson for a 14-yard passing touchdown that put the Wildcats up 7-0 with 4:14 to play in the half.
East Central responded eight seconds before halftime as quarterback Luke Patton scampered one yard to tie the score.
Both teams made offensive adjustments in the locker room.
Harrison took the third quarter kickoff and immediately marched 64 yards on five plays to take a 14-7 lead. The drive took less than three minutes, and was spearheaded by two 22-yard, Weber-to-Hogue completions. East Central responded with a late-quarter field goal, making it 14-10 at the end of the third quarter.
East Central produced a successful 42-yard drive on the legs of running back Andrew Keilholz and arm of Patton. Patton capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown with 9:50 remaining, giving the Trojans a 17-14 advantage.
Weber put it on himself to recover the lead. A 20-yard pass completion to Hogue and a defensive holding penalty put Harrison on the 50 yard line. Despite a seven-yard sack, Weber connected with Hogue for 15 yards on 4th-and-5. That set up a screen pass from Weber to Anderson with 5:40 remaining that made it 21-17 Harrison.
The remainder of the quarter saw East Central use successful pass-and-run combinations to get to the Harrison 5-yard line. But a quarterback sack followed by an intentional grounding call set up a final play from 22 yards out with 33 seconds left.
Patton lofted a pass to receiver Noah Moser that fell just short. Harrison came away the victors, but tough competitors Patton and Keilholz made it difficult as they rushed for 199 yards combined.
“It’s a special rivalry and these kids play football together as youngsters,” McCullough said. “When you look in the stands, it’s like a homecoming for both sides. The game is great for the community, and it’ll be a special night in Harrison.”
Next week, Harrison visits Oak Hills (0-1) and East Central travels to LaSalle (1-0).
Craig Latscha is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer who is entering his first season as a feature reporter for Tristatefootball.com. He enjoys covering football action, and has two sons who play football at the college and high school levels. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.