HAVILAND – It was the final home football game for 13 Wayne Trace seniors and the Raiders made it a memorable one.

The red, white and blue put together four solid quarters for the first time this year and Wayne Trace held off visiting Ayersville for a 28-26 win in Green Meadows Conference action at Raider Field.

The victory all but secured a playoff berth for Wayne Trace as the Raiders improved to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference while Ayersville drops to 6-3 in all games and 4-2 in the league.

Wayne Trace had played four tough games at home, falling in close contests to Patrick Henry, Edgerton, Tinora and Antwerp this season. However, the Raiders got over the hump Friday night to pick up their first home win of the year and all but ensure a week 11 contest.

“I am really proud of this football team,” noted Raider head coach Matt Holden. “You know, we have been in a lot of tough games this year and they hadn’t went our way. Tonight, we battled and competed for 48 minutes and just continued to push until we got the victory.”

Tied at 14-14 at halftime, the visiting Pilots seemed ready to take the momentum as Ayersville needed only four plays on the first possession of the second half to grab the lead.

After a 38-yard scamper by Owen Berner started the drive, Abe DeLano ran for eight and Berner added ten more to put the Pilots at the Wayne Trace four-yard line. Berner then finished off the possession with a four-yard plunge for a score to put Ayersville on top 20-14 with 9:54 left in the third quarter.

Faced with adversity and finding themselves behind, the Raiders responded quickly.

On the ensuing possession, Wayne Trace put together a seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive that gave the red, white and blue the lead for good.

The drive was highlighted by a 38-yard pass from Kyle Stoller to Race Price that moved Wayne Trace to the Ayersville 20-yard line. Two plays later, Stoller scrambled 13-yards to give the Raiders a first and goal at the Pilot eight.

Following an incomplete pass, Stoller scrambled out of the pocket on a broken play and connected with Dylan Hildebrand for an eight-yard scoring strike. Cale Winans, whose four extra point kicks proved to be critical, split the uprights in giving Wayne Trace a 21-20 lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter.

“That was a huge drive,” Holden commented. “The guys could have gotten down but they just continued to fight and answered.”

After Ayersville picked up one first down on the next possession, Hauenstein slipped and went down on a key fourth down as Wayne Trace took over at its own 42.

The Raiders then went to the ground game, getting an eight-yard rumble from Kyle Slade before Stoller scooted for five yards to the Ayersville 45. Following a Slade carry of five more yards, Stoller found Derek Dangler for nine yards and then hooked up with Price on an 11-yard reception to the Ayersville 19.

From there, Stoller scrambled the final 19-yards for a score to extend the Raider lead to 28-20.

Ayersville wasn’t done, though.

The Pilots closed the gap to 28-26 with 5:59 remaining on the clock as Hauenstein found an opening and went into the endzone from six yards out. However, the two-point conversion run was stopped, providing the final margin of two points.

Wayne Trace then ran out the clock, getting a huge offsides penalty on the Pilots on a fourth-and-four at its own 32-yard line. The Raiders added a pair of first downs, with one coming on a 15-yard pass from Stoller to Tucker Antoine and the other via a Slade two-yard run that put the red, white and blue at the Ayersville 33 to seal the contest.

“Guys made plays tonight,” Holden continued. “We had guys coming off the field telling us that we could do certain things and they went out and executed. I am just so proud of this team for the way it played tonight.”

The Raiders struck first with a late first-quarter touchdown opening the scoring.

Stoller hooked up with a wide-open Jude Stoller for an 85-yard touchdown toss that gave Wayne Trace a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ayersville came back to take its only lead of the contest on the Pilots’ next possession.

Marching 58-yards in a dozen plays, the Defiance County squad got on the scoreboard when quarterback Blake Hauenstein found Abe DeLano for a six-yard touchdown pass. Hauenstein then ran in the two-point conversion to give Ayersville an 8-7 lead with 8:57 left in the first half.

Wayne Trace needed just six plays to regain the advantage as Stoller connected with Price for a six-yard touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a 14-8 lead at the 7:00 mark.

The Pilots tied the game with 4:17 on the clock in the second quarter as Berner broke free for a seven-yard carry to the endzone, knotting the game at 14-14 at the intermission.

“Everybody contributed to this win,” Holden noted. “This group has really continued to work hard and they have bought in to what we are trying to do. I am just so proud of them.”

For seniors Samuel Moore, Jared Pierce, Dylan Hildebrand, Race Price, Martin Alejo, Kyle Slade, Ezra Sinn, Elliott Boroff, Lane Morehead, Jake Downing, Chase Schaefer, Kaden Woolbright and Blake Stoller, it was the final time they will play at Raider Field.

“This group of seniors has been through a lot,” commented the Raider mentor. “We have played so many close games and had opportunities to win games. Tonight, we were able to get over that hump and get one and I am so happy for this group. They have worked extremely hard and to be able to have them win their final home game, you couldn’t have asked for anything better. They deserve it.”

Slade ran for 66 yards over 18 carries to lead the Wayne Trace rushing game while Stoller added 30 yards on five tries. Stoller also completed 11 of 20 passes for 269 yards with both Price (82 yards) and Tucker Antoine (85 yards) recording four receptions.

Hauenstein completed 6 of 12 passes for Ayersville, covering 58 yards, while Berner ran for 135 yards over 21 carries and Hauenstein covered 72 yards over 18 attempts. Berner topped the Pilots with four receptions for 27 yards and DeLano had two catches for 31 yards.

Wayne Trace closes the regular season with a trip to county rival Paulding for a contest at Keysor Field.

RAIDER SENIORS RECOGNIZED – The Wayne Trace Athletic Department recognized senior fall sport athletes Friday night prior to the contest. Seniors participating in band, cheerleading, cross country, football and golf were honored. Athletes receiving recognition included Martin Alejo (football), Kiara Bahena (cross country), Elliott Boroff (football), Evan Crosby (golf), Riley Daeger (girls golf), Derrek Dangler (football), Tyler Davis (boys golf), Ava Dougal (cheerleading, girls golf), Jake Downing (football),Cole Fisher (band), Kristin McDonald (girls golf), Anna Miller (girls golf), Abby Moore (cross country), Samuel Moore (football), Lane Morehead (football), Jared Pierce (football), Race Price (football), Morgan Riebesehl (girls golf), Chase Schaefer (football), Brielle Sheets (cheerleading), Ezra Sinn (football), Kyle Slade (football), Blake Stoller (football), Kara Stoller (cross country), Nyle Stoller (boys golf), Laura Thornell (cross country), Storm Tracy (cheerleading), Kristin Wannemacher (girls golf) and Kaden Woolbright (football).

 Wayne Trace’s win over the Pilots was the first Raider victory at home this season. The red, white and blue hasn’t went winless at home since the 2003 season when the Raiders were 2-8 overall with wins at Paulding and at Ayersville.