As Greg Kohler ran free down the right sideline, Johnny Davis lofted a pass in his direction.
There were no nerves on either side as the the two Central High School football players set into motion a play that the team discussed during halftime of its game against Logan at Swanson Field on Friday night.
As Kohler gathered in the throw and raced to the end zone late in the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders scored the points they needed in a 24-18 win that gave them ownership of the Ark of Victory for the first time since 2011.
The 37-yard touchdown pass came with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left and gave Central (3-3, 2-2) a four-point lead before AC Riley scored on a two-point conversion.
“It was a play we put in at halftime, and we executed it perfectly,” said Kohler, who had five catches for 56 yards and the winning touchdown. “The opportunity was there.”
Davis faked a handoff to Riley before dropping back and spotting an open Kohler down the sideline to give the Red Raiders their only lead of the game.
After turning the ball over on downs, Logan (3-3, 2-2) had one last chance at possession when Garrett Olson intercepted a pass by Matt Johnson with about 1 minute remaining.
Olson caught the ball near his own goal-line and ran forward, but the ball was fumbled, and Steven Cross pounced on it with 55.1 seconds left to allow Central to run out the clock.
Cross rushed for 73 yards, and Davis passed for 180 in a game that was controlled — mostly — by the Rangers.
Central scored the last 16 points and was twice given good field possession when snaps soared over the head of Logan punter Gunnar Parcher.
But the Red Raiders’ defense was on the field a lot as the Rangers moved the ball with Christian Kapanke and CJ Siegel. Siegel had five catches for 114 yards and scored two touchdowns. Kapanke rushed for 147 yards.
“I’m really excited for this team tonight,” Central coach Tony Servais said. “We talked about keeping our composure and fighting through all of that.
“They had some drives we had to withstand, but we did it.”
Siegel was a problem for Central for most of the game, and he seemed to answer every bit of success it had.
Two of Siegel’s biggest catches came in response to Central’s second-quarter touchdown.
The Red Raiders drove 38 yards on seven plays — only completing one pass along the way — and drew to within 12-8 when Cross scored from the 4 on a third-and-3 play.
Riley scored on a conversion run before kicking off with 2:56 on the clock.
Logan started its next drive at its own 42 before quarterback Matt Escher completed a 17-yard pass to Siegel to move the ball to the Central 40. Escher took the next snap and rolled to his left before looking back to his right and finding Siegel for a 37-yard play to get the Rangers to the 3.
Escher only had time to make the throw due to a big block by Kapanke that gave him the extra second he needed.
Ambrose Metz-Beard plowed into the end zone from the 2 to give the Rangers a more comfortable 18-8 lead with 1:14 left in the half.
Logan’s first two touchdown drives covered 95 and 96 yards and featured plenty of Siegel.
The Rangers took their 6-0 lead when Escher found Siegel open for an 8-yard touchdown and pushed it to 12-0 when Siegel slipped behind the defense and caught a 39-yard TD pass in the end zone.
Logan missed the extra point after the first touchdown and came up short on a conversion run after the second. The Rangers’ second touchdown drive was also helped by a 26-yard screen pass from Escher to Metz-Beard.
Central’s first three drives resulted in 7 yards.