Sophomore linebacker Trent Salters of the Hamilton Township High School football team couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the ball being thrown in his direction with less than 30 seconds remaining in a 14-all tie against Groveport on Aug. 31 at Fortress Obetz.
Salters intercepted the pass and returned it 20 yards before being tackled on the Groveport 5-yard line with 15 seconds left.
On the next play, backup quarterback Eric Bonte scored on a 5-yard run to give the Rangers a 21-14 win.
“I just couldn’t believe it. It was a great opportunity,” Salters said. “I think I nearly passed out when I was running it back. This is just crazy.”
Just seconds earlier, the Rangers had first-and-goal at the Groveport 8, but a penalty helped push them back to the 17 and running back Drysten Crallie fumbled and Cruisers defensive back Tyss Harris recovered at the 21.
Groveport then opted to throw a screen pass, a play that had worked effectively in the second half. However, on this occasion, Salters read the play and made the interception.
“We preach to the guys about being ready for quick changes,” said first-year Hamilton Township coach Mike Savino, whose team improved to 1-1. “We could’ve been hanging our heads, but we weren’t and Trent was ready to make the big play.”
Groveport, which fell to 0-2, was hoping to catch the Rangers off guard with the screen pass.
“We thought we’d surprise them and give ourselves one chance to bust one lose,” Groveport coach Bryan Schoonover said. “Boy, this is tough.”
Despite turning the ball over two times in the first half, Groveport trailed only 7-0 at halftime and then scored 14 points in the third quarter when quarterback Colin Kerns connected with Jaylin Chaney on touchdown passes covering 5 and 9 yards.
The Cruisers played without injured starting quarterback Jacob Huffman and injured all-state receiver Izayah Aekins.
Hamilton Township lost its starting quarterback, Zavion Cunningham, to injury on the last play of the third quarter.
Bonte replaced him and rushed for 48 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run with 10:19 left to tie the game at 14. Crallie had 62 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Kerns was 17-for-31 passing for 167 yards with the two touchdowns and the interception.
Wayne Blackshear and Emmanuel Anthony both rushed for 45 yards for the Cruisers.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final HAMILTON TOWNSHIP
0 7 0 14 21 GROVEPORT
0 0 14 0 14
HT—Fulton 21 run (Lannom kick)
G—Chaney 5 pass from Kerns (Hernandez kick)
G—Chaney 9 pass from Kerns (Hernandez kick)
HT—Bonte 3 run (Lannom kick)
HT—Bonte 5 run (Lannom kick)