ANDERSON TOWNSHIP -- Jay Volpenhein stepped onto the field with just over three minutes to play Friday night, knowing full well he and his high-powered Anderson offense were going to march down the field and score a game-winning touchdown.
Not 30 seconds earlier, West Clermont had scored a game-tying touchdown to erase what had been a 27-0 second-quarter lead for the Redskins.
No problem. No pressure.
4th down. Tie game. A perfect season on the line. This is about as big of a play as they come. 31 yard TD pass from @JayVolpenhein to Amadez Jones. Full highlights on @WCPO at 11:15. @AHSRedskins_AD @_AHS_Football pic.twitter.com/fXYUVW4SJU
— Jake Ryle (@JakeWCPO) October 7, 2017
A few plays into the final drive, Volpenhein connected with senior receiver Amadaz Jones for a 31-yard touchdown, and Anderson beat Eastern Cincinnati Conference foe West Clermont 42-34 to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the ECC.
West Clermont fell to 4-3 and 3-1 in its first season after Glen Este and Amelia merged to form the school.
"We were going to control and do our thing," the senior quarterback said. "This offense was built for situations like this and we are really good at executing. That's exactly what we did and we got the W tonight."
On fourth down and six, Volpenhein dropped back, pump-faked and hit Jones on the right hash marks with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"When Coach (Evan) Dreyer called the play, I don't know what was going through my head," Jones said. "It was crazy. I knew I just had to get the first down and I ended up running it in."
Jones caught the ball near the 10 and rumbled in.
"Just catch this thing," he said. "I wasn't worried about a touchdown or nothing. Just catch the ball first."
The play was for Jones from the start, Volpenhein said.
"We ran that play once before in a game in the same position for a win, and it worked," Volpenhein said. "All I wanted him to do was catch the ball. It was fourth down and six. He catches the ball and we have a first down, but he's a great player and he made it into something more. We won the game."
Volpenhein then caught a pass for the two-point conversion on a trick play. He completed 29 of 45 passes for 493 yards and four touchdowns Friday with two more touchdowns on the ground.
"Jay Volpenhein is the best competitor in the city," Dreyer said. "There is something special about the kid. I couldn't be more proud of a kid and the way he handled the last two minutes."
The poise and execution were necessary those last two minutes after senior quarterback Tyler Steinker's one-yard keeper through the middle and two-point conversion pass tied the score at 34-34 with 3:12 to play, capping a furious late-game rally by West Clermont.
— Tom Ramstetter (@tramstetter) October 7, 2017
"In the second half, we told the kids to believe in us and what we do and we'll just win the second half," West Clermont coach Nick Ayers said. "Well, winning the second half ended up as tying it up after being down 27, so we're super proud of our kids, and we have a lot of room to grow. We're going to keep growing and coaching."
West Clermont outscored Anderson 28-7 from late in the first half until the game-winner and settled for a 28-15 advantage in the second half after falling behind 27-0 early.
"Our kids came out inspired and played," Ayers said of the second half. "I let our kids down in the first half. I didn't coach as well as I should have and I didn't give them what they needed and put them in spots to succeed."
Junior running back Ryan Cann, who finished with 254 yards on 25 carries, scored from eight yards out with 35 seconds remaining in the first half to get the Wolves on the board and he capped the opening drive of the third quarter with a five-yard touchdown run to make the score 27-13. About a minute later, Volpenhein carried it in from four yards out for a 34-13 lead, but that was all for the Redskins until the game-winner.
Junior running back Jacob Kilgore scored from three yards out with 1:45 to play in the third and junior Austin Price returned a punt 80 yards down the left side for a touchdown with 10 seconds to play in the third to make it 34-26. The Wolves then controlled the clock on offense for most of the fourth quarter before Steinker's equalizer.
"I really think they pressured our quarterback and made us throw the ball deep," Dreyer said. "Defensively, we got a little worn down and we've got to fix that. We were out a couple players, but there is no excuse for us to let them back in the game. But I'm extremely excited about our victory."
It was the second-straight nail-biter for unbeaten Anderson. The Redskins narrowly outlasted Loveland (1-6, 1-3), 28-27 last week.
"We're just learning how to win still," Dreyer said. "I think tonight we lost our composure as a program and as a team, but we're doing a good job with our kids. I'm so proud of the way they've worked and the way they finished the game. It's a great feeling to win on a Friday night.
"Kudos to West Clermont for having a great game."
The Wolves, meanwhile, move on without what could have been a signature win for the young program.
"I don't know what it does because our expectations are high," Ayers said. "Even though we're a first-year program, we have a lot of pride in what we do. We feel we're ahead of the curve as far as other new programs, which there aren't many. But we hold ourselves to a high standard and we're working on that.
"No moral victories."