St. Joe Central tops Liberty for first win
By Cody Thorn The St. Joseph News-Press
Israel Smith had never been so nervous.
Central’s sophomore running back trotted to the sideline after coach Jeff Wallace called a timeout. Trailing in the final minute, the Indians coach called a play that put a lot on the shoulders of No. 25.
Smith delivered as he converted on the fourth-and-4 play from the 11-yard line after taking a snap in a Wildcat formation. The 8-yard gain set up a first-and-goal situation and Smith had his number called again. This time he broke through for the game-clinching touchdown with 45 seconds left to lift the Indians to a 42-39 victory at Noyes Field.
The first win of the season came in front of a packed house and the student sections charged the field.
“I’m just in awe,” said Smith, who ran for a career-high 263 yards and finished with four touchdowns. “I don’t even know what to say. This is the most exciting game I’ve played in. We have been mad about losing and we wanted to get this win.”
On the Indians’ final drive, Smith busted through the line for a 16-yard gain on the second play. Quarterback Jacob Hess hit freshman Cade Musser for a 24-yard gain that moved the Indians from midfield to deep into Liberty’s territory.
The clocked continued to wind down and on third-and-11 from the Liberty 18-yard line, Hess hit Gage Stagner for a six-yard gain that set up Smith’s fourth-down run.
The Indians went for two after the touchdown and got it when Hess hit Austin Jackson for the two-points that boosted the lead to 42-39.
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