To play one more time under the lights on the football field? Not long ago it was just a dream, and still is for many; but in Wellington on Saturday, it became reality for 50 Crusader alumni.
The group was divided into two teams, the Even-year Crusaders against the Odd-year Crusaders. Players ranged from the Wellington High School (WHS) Class of 1983 all the way up to the most recent Class of 2012., and it ended up being a pretty good game
The team of 30 Odd-Crusaders, clad in red Wellington jerseys, out numbered the Evens by 10 players, giving them an advantage on paper, and on their first possession took advantage on the scoreboard.
Tim Lira, WHS Class of '03, plunged into the endzone from inside the five-yard line with six minutes left in the opening quarter. The Odds took a 6-0 lead with the Evens eager to answer.
The Evens, in visitor-white Wellington uniforms, started an impressive march down the field, lead by quarter back Taylor Zeka, WHS Class of 2002. The drive ended in the endzone, but not the way the Evens had hoped. A pass from Zeka was intercepted by Brandon Wilmoth, Class of 2001. Wilmoth was forced out of bounds at the one, where the Odds took over.
The Odds and Evens traded possessions the rest of the half, until the one minute mark. The Evens were on the move, and in a hurry. A Zeka pass to Chad Gill, Class of '96, jump started a drive. With 40-seconds to go, Kody Page, Class of '08, took a hand-off around the right side, 30-yards for the tying score.
It didn't look like the scoring was over for the first half, as Lance Russell, quarterback, Class of '93, connected on a deep pass to Garrett Brinkmeyer, Class of 2005. Russell followed that play up with a long run on the next one. The ball was snapped over his head and fumbled on both plays.
The Odds were in striking distance with 3 seconds to go, but the ensuing pass over the middle fell incomplete. The score was tied 6-all at the half.
The second half saw far less action than the first. The third quarter was scoreless, but early in the fourth, Russell found Jason Burnett, Class of '97, in the endzone for what would be the game winning touchdown, with 8:34 to go. However, the drama was far from over.
With 5:09 left, Markkel Bradley, Class of '10 orchestrated a circus-catch near the sidelines. The Even-Iron Dukes got the ball painfully close to the goal line with the next couple of plays. But the drive ended with 2:07 left in the game, when Zeka tried a quarterback sneak, only to have the ball stripped by the opposition. The Odds took over possession, and ran the clock out to conclude the contest, final score 12-6.
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