Twice in the final minute Sept. 7, Cody Trago was confident the football was coming his way.
The first time, the Licking Heights High School football team’s leading wide receiver caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Righter in the back left corner of the end zone on third-and-18 to give the Hornets a three-point lead at New Albany with 47 seconds left.
A few moments later as a defensive back, Trago batted down a fourth-down pass to clinch a 27-24 win, Licking Heights’ first victory of the season and New Albany’s first loss of the year.
“Before I ran the route, I was crossing my fingers. I’m not going to lie,” said Trago, who caught 12 passes for 119 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown in the first quarter. “I feel pretty lucky.”
Zion Sharp and Spencer Vincken also had touchdown catches for Licking Heights, which improved to 1-2 and had been held to 40 total yards in a 44-0 loss to Reynoldsburg on Aug. 31.
“When we execute, we’re a scary team,” said Righter, who completed 22 of 34 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. “I told Cody the cornerback would bite on that route. We killed them with the out. When I saw him take just one little step inside, I knew we had it.”
New Albany, which dropped to 2-1 and had won its first two games by an average of 20 points, committed three of its 11 penalties on Licking Heights’ game-winning drive, including a pass interference and a face mask one play before Trago’s touchdown catch.
Alex Cox led the Eagles with 128 yards rushing and a touchdown on 16 carries. Michiah Burton added 83 yards and a touchdown that put New Albany ahead 24-14 halfway through the third quarter.
“We hurt ourselves, but Licking Heights played a great game,” New Albany coach Matthew Kidwell said. “They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. We just made mistakes and they capitalized. They put drives together that we didn’t stop.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final LICKING HEIGHTS 7 7 6 7 27 NEW ALBANY
0 17 7 0 24
LH—Trago 36 pass from Righter (Willison kick)
NA—Gurd 3 pass from Muter (Rogers kick)
NA—Cox 19 run (Rogers kick)
LH—Vincken 16 pass from Righter (Willison kick)
NA—Rogers 35 FG
NA—Burton 2 run (Rogers kick)
LH—Sharp 15 pass from Righter (pass failed)
LH—Trago 23 pass from Righter (Willison kick)