By Mike Miller – firstname.lastname@example.org
LIMA — There was no play-off spot on the line, but pride and good memories were both evident at Spartan Stadium Friday night when Lima Central Catholic played host to Wayne Trace on senior night.
The Thunderbirds rode a big final game performance by quarterback Ethan O’Connor to a 45-14 victory over the Raiders.
O’Connor, who followed brothers Tyler and Aidan at quarterback for LCC, completed 17-of-29 passes good for 388 yards and four touchdowns. O’Connor also opened the scoring for LCC with a 4-yard run early in the first quarter.
The T-Birds sprinted to a 28-0 lead before the Raiders bounced back with two late second quarter scores to get to within 28-14 going to the half.
Wayne Trace started a freshman at quarterback and he responded quite nicely to the Friday night lights.
Trae Sinn completed 18-of-43 pass attempts good for 266 yards and one touchdown. LCC did intercept three of Sinn’s pass attempts on the night.
O’Connor hit Thomas Williams for a 33 yard score, then Nick Taflinger with a 73-yard bomb, and, finally, Paul Holbrook with a 65-yarder for three first half touchdownpasses.
Any thoughts the Raiders (4-6) had of a comeback were squelched by the T-Bird defense who tossed a second shut-out at Wayne Trace while LCC would tack on 17 second half points.
Taflinger, also playing his last game for LCC, kicked a 37-yard field goal before catching his second scoring strike of the game, a 10-yard play late in the third quarter. Taflinger would total four catches good for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
The final LCC score would come on a 3-yard run by Logan Schultz that gave the T-Birds a 45-14 lead a set the running clock in motion for the rest of the game.
Entering the game with a 4-5 record for the year, it was unanimous how much better 5-5 was than 4-6 for the entire LCC team.
“Five and five is not a losing record and it gives us momentum heading into the off-season.” LCC coach Scott Plate said. “It’s a great send off for our seniors and I’m proud of the way we came out and played a great game tonight. With our tough schedule we just kept working and battling and I’m proud of what we did.”
O’Connor was also proud of the way the T-Birds ended their season (and for most of them their competitive careers).
“To come out of the year with a .500 record is not bad with as tough as our schedule was.” O’Connor said.
With both Tyler and Aidan patiently waiting for some final family pictures on the Spartan Stadium turf, Ethan tried to sneak in a quick shot at his brothers.
“Tyler and Aidan both lost their last games as T-Birds so I guess this win means a lot.” O’Connor said with a sly grin on his face.
Tyler and Aidan were both close enough to hear that comment and were quick to point out that their final loss as T-Birds came in the playoffs.
Williams finished the game with four receptions good for 90 yards and a score while Vinny Pignataro also totaled four catches good for 58 yards.