Homestead coach Chad Zolman said he knows his team's not known for thriving in bad field conditions, but it was the Spartans who prevailed 21-13 in a messy, muddy contest at Wayne on Friday.
“We get criticized at Homestead for having the turf, and not being able to play in the mud and all that sort of thing,” Zolman said. “I hope we showed them we can play in the mud a little bit. I thought our kids adjusted well, they played hard. They were in the right position and did a lot of good things.”
Despite regular stops to dry off the football, the game was filled with bobbled snaps and dropped passes, tackles and catches missed when players slipped in the mud. Still, Luke Goode passed for 164 yards and threw two touchdowns for Homestead (5-3), which has now won three straight games after a three-game losing streak.
The loss ended any glimmer of hope for a conference championship for Wayne (6-2), whose only previous loss had come in the season opener to Bishop Dwenger.
As his team gathered around him after the game, Zolman told them that they were peaking at the right time, with just one week to go in the regular season.
“Consistency on offense. We ground the ball out a little bit, had some long drives, some sustained drives that ended up in the end zone,” Zolman said when asked why this was among his team's best efforts of the year. “Defensively, (we allowed) 13 points against a high-powered offense that can score from anywhere on the field. So I feel like we played a solid game on both sides.”
Neither team scored in the first quarter, and both teams appeared to have trouble gaining ground due to field conditions and hard-hitting defenses.
At one point in the second quarter, Homestead quarterback Jake Archbold fell on a bad snap, darted well behind the line of scrimmage to save the ball when the next snap sailed over his head, and then was tackled after a short run on the next play, forcing the Spartans to punt. Homestead got the ball right back when the Generals fumbled on the punt return, but on the ensuing drive Goode, who took over from Archbold at quarterback, also had to chase after a bad snap.
No matter. On the next play, Goode rolled to his right and hurled the ball downfield to Mitchell Wesner, who ran the rest of the way along the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Wayne responded a few minutes later, as quarterback Brandan Young handed off to Keshaun Fields, who raced through the line, dodged a diving defender and ran 59 yards to the end zone to tie it at 7.
Homestead scored once more in the first half, on a 3-yard run by Goode. Wayne answered with 11 seconds left, as Young hit wide receiver Craig Young with a perfectly timed pass from 20 yards out. The receiver caught the ball right in front of the goal line, stepped around a Homestead defender and into the end zone.
But as he did over and over throughout the night, Cam Shannon ruined the moment for Wayne, blocking the extra point attempt to give Homestead a 14-13 halftime lead. Shannon also had an interception and 37-yard return for Homestead in the second half, and broke up a pass from Young to Young on a key play during a drive late in the fourth quarter.
“He was well-motivated tonight,” Zolman said of Shannon. “He loves playing these guys, he's got some friends on that team that he's pretty tight with, so it was a big win for him. He's been that way all year for us. He's a tremendous player. We'll put him on the best receiver from the other team, and he does a great job for us.”
Homestead capped off the win on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Goode to Griffin Little in the fourth quarter.