LIMA – This isn’t the place Lima Senior football wants to be.
Still, the Spartans went out with a pleasant taste in their mouths with a Week 10 victory against Oregon Clay.
Lima Senior’s Jawan Anderson did a little of everything, including returning a kick 53 yards in the final two minutes to help the Spartans post a 27-23 victory over Clay Friday at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans end the year 2-8, 1-6 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Clay finished 1-9, 0-7 in the TRAC.
Clay went ahead 23-20 on a 21-yard field goal by Ruger Wamer with 1:50 to go in the game.
The Eagles went 52 yards in 11 plays on the drive, including gobbling up 45 yards on three Lima Senior penalties (face mask, pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct).
Clay then opted for a squib kickoff, and Anderson gathered it in on the Lima Senior 39. He took one step right, then took a left turn and was off for 53 yards to the Clay 8-yard line.
“I didn’t think the kick would come like that,” Anderson said. “It was just instinct (on the return). I caught the ball, he missed the tackle, and I had to go.’’
Two plays later, the junior Anderson bulled over from the 3 for a TD. That gave the Spartans the 27-23 lead with 57 seconds to go.
“That (kickoff return) was the biggest play of the year, and it was surprising that they didn’t kick it deep,” Lima Senior coach Andre Griffin said.
Anderson finished the night with 14 carries for 96 yards. He had TDs of 1 and 3 yards. Anderson also had an interception for his night.
“I wanted the seniors to go out with a bang,” Anderson said.
Added Griffin, “He (Anderson) did a great job, and he has that talent. If it happens, you want it to happen at the end of the year, and he can get that confidence going into next year. … I like what we have coming back, and hopefully we have a good offseason.’’
Lima Senior sophomore quarterback E.J. Cameron completed 16 of 24 for 120 yards. He threw one TD and had one interception.
Clay quarterback Logan Heintschel completed 10 of 23 for 93 yards. He threw one TD and had two picked off.
Clay went out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. The Spartans rallied, and the game was tied at 13 at the half.
Clay scored first when quarterback Heintschel ran it in from the 3. That capped a six-play, 44-yard drive and gave Clay a 6-0 lead at the 8:07 mark of the first quarter.
Again it was Heintshel on a keeper, this time for a 16-yard TD. That gave Clay a 13-0 lead with 2:32 left in the first quarter.
Lima Senior then unveiled Anderson, and he burst through a couple of holes and refused to go down. Anderson ran for 23, then 26 yards on the three-play drive. When Anderson dove in from the 1, the Spartans got within 13-6 with 1:15 left in the opening quarter.
Clay helped out the Spartans with field position when a high snap on a punt was barely caught by the Clay punter, but he was tackled by Lima Senior’s Jordan McClendon at the Clay 35-yard line.
Five plays later, Spartans’ quarterback Cameron turned the right side on a keeper for a 12-yard TD. That tied the game at 13 with 1:38 left in the first half.
After Clay went ahead 20-13, Lima Senior tied it at 20 on a 3-yard TD pass from Cameron to Jaleel King with 6:28 to play.
King had four catches for 40 yards with the TD.
Griffin is looking for the team to make strides in the offseason.
“They have to stay together,” Griffin said. “We have to have it in the weight room. We’re talented, like everyone else in our league. If we get past adversity and start off better, I think we can do a job next year. … We want everything, bigger, faster, stronger.’’
Reach The Lima New sports department at 567-242-0451.