Quarterback Kade Wentz faked the handoff to Miles Anderson, took three steps back, and threw a deep rainbow to Wheeler Smith. With nobody in front of him, Smith pranced from one hash to the other avoiding the last two Grossmont Griffin defenders for the touchdown. For the Lancers, it gave them the early lead, but for Wentz and Smith, it was a connection built since childhood.
“I see Wheeler one-on-one running a post route,” Wentz said. “You know I’ve been throwing him that touchdown, that same ball since we were 6 years old. I mean that’s our route. That’s the post. That’s our bread and butter. We’ve been running that since we played flag up to high school and now.”
Assistant coach Rob Cushman drew up a play on the sideline with Smith on the backside running a post route. They had tried running that same play two plays earlier, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself and there was a holding penalty.
“We ran it once, but Kade was under pressure and he didn’t have time,” Smith said. “But then we ran it two plays later and Kade threw a perfect ball right in stride.”
The Lancers went on to defeat the Griffins in a landslide victory 41-10 at Robinson Stadium.
By mid-third quarter, the Lancers held a 13-3 lead over Griffins. Settled in at the Griffin 18-yard line, Wentz went back to his childhood friend Smith, who ran a skinny post route. Smith found himself surrounded by three defenders after the catch but managed to dodge two of them. The third one violently brought Smith down to the turf, stripping him in the process. Most of the players stopped like the play was over, but Justin Campbell followed Smith and the football spinning aimlessly in the end zone, corralling it for the fumble recovered touchdown. The Lancers went up 20-3.
The ensuing play Grossmont quarterback, Brady Abt, threw an interception to linebacker Jordan Monroe who was taken down from behind at the Griffin 7-yard line. The Lancers offense stalled in the red zone and backup kicker, Cristian Contreras, walked onto the field with wide receiver Jabari Kindle as his placeholder.
“We have been watching film all week,” Kindle said. “They were coming hard off the edge on that [left] side and we had to have something to counter that, so they could be honest and stay back sometimes. We saw that they were coming off the edge, so the coach gave me the signal and it was history from there. I saw my person [Carlos Ramirez] in the end zone and there was someone on me right away, so I had to get it out as fast as I could.”
In less than two minutes, the Lancers took a commanding 27-3 lead over the Griffins and the route was on.
PCC lost to Grossmont Oct. 16. Kade Wentz had his worst performance of the season, passing 14-26 for 120 yards and throwing 3 interceptions. His childhood friend Smith, finished the game with 4 receptions, 123-yards and the early touchdown hookup.This time the game was at home and Kade Wentz turned it around, passing 15-24 for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“I was excited,” Wentz said. “I was really excited. I really wanted those guys again. The coach told me after the game that if we win out we have a chance of playing these guys again. That got me excited. I really wanted to play those guys. We’re a really resilient football team and we showed it today.”
This game was important for the Lancers for three reasons. First, this was a play-in game for both teams who won a share of the division. There are one of two American Bowl at-large bowl bids at stake. With the win, the Lancers will await a few games to play out this weekend and find out if they will be awarded or even host one of those games. Second, the Lancers wanted revenge after the Oct. 16 loss. Backup quarterback wanted this game. With all that being said, this was an accomplishment for the entire PCC football program. With eight victories, it was the most wins for the program in the past 19 years. Lastly, the Lancers completed the season without a home loss.
“I just knew that we could beat them,” Smith said. “We just didn’t show our best the first time we played them. We were all just kind of off our game. But we don’t lose at home.”
The special teams were responsible for a few positive plays that changed the tide of the game. The unit came away with two blocked punts, both of which were turned into touchdowns. The Lancers defense also held Grossmont to season low of 283-yards given up and 8 total team sacks.
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