by David Fatzinger
Legendary plays are made in the last minutes of a game, and while a high school football game lasts 60 minutes on the field, the memories of a game and the plays in it last a lifetime. For 58 and a half minutes, the Lancaster High School Redskins were headed toward a historic upset over heavily favored cross-town rival Depew High School Wildcats in the annual battle as part of the national Great American Rivalry Series. But with 1:36 left in the game, Most Valuable Player and running back Joe Miller took a screen pass from Depew quarterback Aaron Ertel and ran 46 yards for the eventual winning score. It was a memory Miller will never forget, and a play that propelled the Wildcats farther into their first undefeated regular season since 2003.
The game started as many expected, with Depew taking the opening kick off and marching down the field for a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Emmanuel behind their mammoth offensive line that averages 270 pounds. But as the rain came and went leaving the Lancaster’s Foyle-King Field wet and slippery and traction hard to come by, the Redskins from Lancaster battled back and took the lead, scoring 16 points in a highly charged second quarter.
Lancaster capitalized on several Depew mistakes in the second quarter including a bad punt snap that flew through the back of the end zone. But the biggest play of the game outside of Miller’s game winning run at the end came at the end of the first half, with Depew driving deep into Lancaster territory. With 12 seconds to play in the half and Depew on Lancaster’s 11-yard line, Lancaster’s Geoff Franger intercepted a pass from Ertel and ran it back 89 yards for a touchdown to give Lancaster a narrow 16-13 lead at the half.
As the teams emerged from their locker rooms after halftime, the rain started once again and, throughout the standing room only stadium, everyone held their breath to see what would happen next.
The third quarter started with worsening field conditions and both team’s defenses ramped up. Neither team scored during the 15-minute third quarter, with the score remaining 16-13 late into the fourth quarter. Lancaster repeatedly drove deep into Depew territory only to be stopped by a tough Depew defense. With just over 3 minutes to go, after another defensive stop by Depew, the Wildcats took the ball and started their march down the field and toward history.
The Wildcats and quarterback Aaron Ertel completed three passes, the last being the game winning screen pass to Miller, and the game was over. Lancaster attempted to move the ball but with no success. As the clock ticketed down to zero, the Wildcats and their fans started to celebrate.
After the game, Joe Miller received his trophy while Depew Coach McCarthy looked on and smiled. Coach McCarthy, who would later receive the Rivalry Series championship trophy, said simply, “What a game!” Yes, Coach, what a game and what a memory.
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- Depew vs. Lancaster – 2010