Football

HS football: No. 1 Warren Central wins on Hail Mary in Cincinnati

Warriors' Tristen Tonte keeps the ball for a touchdown run up the middle in the second quarter of a high school football game between the St. Xavier Bombers and the Warren Central Warriors at St. Xavier High School on Friday night in Cincinnati.

Warriors’ Tristen Tonte keeps the ball for a touchdown run up the middle in the second quarter of a high school football game between the St. Xavier Bombers and the Warren Central Warriors at St. Xavier High School on Friday night in Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI — How wild was the finish of Warren Central’s game Friday at St. Xavier?

The Warriors’ winning touchdown started on a play with no time left on the clock.

Sophomore wide receiver David Bell out-leapt several teammates and Bombers defenders to haul in senior quarterback Zach Summeier’s 42-yard Hail Mary pass in the end zone to give Indiana’s top-ranked 6A team a 19-18 win.

The touchdown followed a play on which St. Xavier was called for illegal participation. Since games can’t end on defensive penalties, Warren Central had one more chance.

“It’s nice to get a win,” said Summeier, who finished 19-of-32 for 242 yards and the touchdown. “You can’t focus on the negative. You’ve got to focus on the positive.”

The winning score outweighed St. Xavier junior quarterback Chase Wolf’s two touchdown passes in the final 1:30 that gave the Bombers an 18-13 lead. Both touchdowns came on drives that were extended by penalties on Warren Central that had the team and fans so frustrated that somebody from the Warren Central side threw a water bottle on the field. Police had to come on to the field to clear it so the final play could be run, and Warren Central had to retrieve several players who had already started angrily heading toward the locker room.

“That was embarrassing,” said St. Xavier coach Steve Specht, whose team finished with eight penalties for 150 yards. “If our job is to teach these kids, we did a terrible job tonight.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” added Warren Central coach Jayson West, whose team racked up 16 penalties for 160 yards. “It was a crazy game — so many penalties.”

Senior running back Tristen Tonte gained 126 yards and scored two touchdowns on 21 carries, including a 71-yard romp that gave the Warriors a 13-3 lead with 7:54 left in the third quarter.

The Bombers grabbed a quick 3-0 lead on senior Kevin Rockwood’s 24-yard field goal, which capped an 11-play, 48-yard drive that consumed four minutes and 18 seconds.

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The Warriors used a 43-yard pass from Summeier to Bell out of punt formation on fourth-and-17 from their own 49-yard line to keep alive a drive that ended with Tonte’s 2-yard plunge with 10:19 left in the first half.

Senior strong safety Michael Tutsie gave Warren Central another opportunity when he forced and recovered a fumble at the Warriors 46-yard line with 4:09 left before halftime, but Summeier overthrew a fourth-down pass to Dean Tate. The two also couldn’t connect on a flea-flicker that left Tate wide open in the final minute.

WARREN CENTRAL 19, ST. XAVIER 18

SCORING

X – Rockwood 24 field goal

W – Tonte 2 run (pass failed)

W – Tonte 71 run (Castillo kick)

X – Rockwood 37 field goal

X – Fox 9 pass from Wolf (pass failed)

X – Wittrock 40 pass from Wolf (pass failed)

W – Bell 42 pass from Summeier

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