Watching Eastern High School kicker Michael Bryar in pregame warmups, Butler High School football coach Scott Carmony had just one thought:
“I hope it doesn’t come down to a field goal, because he can boot it.”
It did come down to that, but Bryar just missed on the final play of the game Friday night. His 44-yard field-goal try was wide right as visiting Butler escaped with a 33-30 victory in a frantic finish.
There were three lead changes in the second half.
“It was a great high school game … but there were a lot of mistakes out there on both sides of the ball,” Carmony said.
William Johnson’s fourth touchdown run of the night, a 6-yarder, gave Butler (1-1) a 33-23 lead with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears appeared to seal the victory two plays later when Tavaughn Morton intercepted a pass by Cody Wolfe, the Eagles’ fourth turnover.
But Chauncey Jones blocked a Butler punt, and the Eagles (2-1) needed just three plays to take advantage. Wolfe hit Tre Harrison with a 26-yard touchdown pass to pull Eastern within 33-30 with 3:40 remaining.
Wolfe finished 15 of 28 for 204 yards and the one touchdown with three interceptions. He also rushed for 78 yards and a TD on 17 carries.
“He might be the best quarterback we’ve seen in two or three years,” Carmony said.
Butler had to punt on its next possession, and the Eagles took over at midfield with 1:54 remaining. Wolfe ran for 11 yards on fourth-and-eight, and a pass-interference penalty gave Eastern a first down at the Butler 11.
But Wolfe was thrown for a 6-yard loss on first down — forcing Eastern to use its final timeout with 32.5 seconds left — and threw an incomplete pass on second down.
“It all goes back to me,” said first-year Eastern coach Stephen Ruckman, who took the blame for the loss. “The first and second downs I called some stupid plays, and that backed us up.”
Michael Clark sacked Wolfe for a 10-yard loss on third down, and Eastern rushed its field-goal unit onto the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Bryar’s tying attempt had plenty of distance but was off the mark.
Ruckman said his team’s turnovers and penalties (eight for 92 yards) were the difference.
“We have to find ways to correct it,” he said. “But our kids were tough, and that’s what I wanted to see. When we got behind, they were coming right back.”
Harrison (seven catches, 87 yards) and Austin Kessler (five catches, 85 yards, one TD) had big receiving games for Eastern. Kessler also threw a 27-yard TD pass to Shane Fields on a trick play in the second quarter, helping pull Eastern within 14-8.
Joe Brown (14 carries, 99 yards) led Butler’s three-pronged rushing attack, with Johnson (14 carries, 72 yards) and Justin Thomas (15 carries, 63 yards, one TD) also having big games. Johnson, a 6-foot, 202-pound sophomore, has five TDs in two games.
“No matter who gets the touches, we do what we have to do to get the rushing yards,” he said of trio.
Carmony said Johnson has the potential to be a special player.
“As a general rule I don’t trust sophomores, but if you can play you can play,” Carmony said. “He’s just a big ol’ rascal, and once he learns all the little things he’s going to be dynamite.”