ADAIR-East Mills has made a living off of big plays this season. But it was the Bombers of Adair-Casey who lived up to their nickname, scoring three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the second quarter, then getting two long Taylor Wheatley to Gavin Walhovd third-quarter touchdown passes to score a 44-32 first-round Eight-man playoff victory Monday night.
Adair-Casey advances to face Stanton Friday night in Stanton for a trip to the semi-finals in the UNI-Dome. The Vikings came from behind to defeat C-A-M 28-26 Monday. East Mills bows out with an 8-3 record and brings home the school's first state football trophy.
East Mills Coach Andy Irwin saw the final game for a senior class that has racked up a 24-6 record in the school's first three years of existence.
“A lot of these guys have been starters since they were sophomores,” said Irwin. “They will be tough to replace.”
East Mills quarter back Jake Bolton closed out his career with a five touchdown performance, completing 20-of-42 passes for 343 yards. Bolton was intercepted three times, but two of those were on tipped balls. In two playoff games this season Bolton threw for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The two teams traded touchdowns early. Bolton connected with Daniel Duysen for a 39-yard score, and Brandon Clemmons on a 73-yard slant pass that went for a touchdown. Those scores were sandwiched around two short Austin Ayers scoring runs and a two-point conversion that gave the Bombers a 14-12 lead before the crucial final six minutes of the half.
Ayers scored again on a five-yard run to put Adair-Casey up 20-12 with 5:44 remaining in the half. East Mills appeared ready to answer when Bolton hit Jake Doyle for a long pass that gave East Mills a first and goal at the Bomber 10-yard line.
But the four straight incomplete passes gave the ball back to Adair-Casey and they responded with a 70-yard scoring drive, capped by Wheatley's one-yard quarterback sneak to put the Bombers up 26-12 with 2:48 remaining in the half.
Adair Casey quickly got the ball back when Wheatley intercepted a tipped pass and the Bombers took over a mid-field. East Mills appeared to have the drive stopped with a tackle for a loss on third down, but the Wolverines were whistled for a face mask right in front of the East Mills bench.
The penalty gave the Bombers new life with a first down at the East Mills 26. Adair-Casey took advantage when Tyler McCorkel scored from one yard out on a fourth down just 10 seconds remaining in the half to stretch the margin to 32-12.
“It didn't look like a face mask from our vantage point,” said Irwin. “But that's what the refs saw.”
The second half opened with a flurry. Any thoughts that Adair-Casey might sit on its lead were quickly squashed when Wheatley hit Gavin Walhovd on a 51-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second half to put the Bombers up 38-12.
East Mills answered two plays later when Bolton connected with Jake Doyle from 46 yards out to cut the margin to 38-18.
But the Wolverines just couldn't get the defensive stop it needed. Wheatley and Walhovd connected again, this time from 53 yards to push the margin to 44-18 with still 9:30 to play in the third period.
“Their big plays were something we knew they were capable of,” said Irwin. “They like to run, run, run, then go over the top. I thought a couple of times we had them covered pretty well, but their kids just made great plays.”
East Mills was able to narrow the final margin to 44-32 when Bolton connected on touchdown passes to Clemmons and Doyle.
EM 6 6 14 6 - 32
AC 14 18 12 0 - 44
EM - Daniel Duysen 39 pass from Jake Bolton (conversion failed).
AC - Austin Ayers 47 run (conversion failed).
AC - Ayers 5 run (conversion good).
EM - Brandon Clemmons 73 pass from Bolton (conversion failed).
AC - Ayers 5 run (conversion good).
AC - Taylor Wheatley 1 run (conversion failed).
AC - Tyler MCCorkel 1 run (conversion failed).
AC - Gavin Walhold 51 pass from Wheatley (conversion failed).
EM - Jake Doyle 46 pass from Bolton (conversion failed).
AC - Walhold 53 pass from Wheatley (conversion failed).
EM - Clemmons 9 pass from Bolton (conversion good).
EM - Doyle 11 pass from Bolton (conversion failed).