EAST CHICAGO | Rarely does one play determine the outcome of a football game.
But Dylan Wright’s 42-yard pass completion to Austin Fleming late in the second quarter was the lightning rod in Rensselaer’s 40-12 victory over Bowman Academy Friday night at Pete Rucinski Field in East Chicago for the Class 2A Sectional 33 title.
“It got us going and put the game into our hands,” Wright said of his only completion of the night.
That one completion was a big one.
Fleming’s over-the-shoulder grab set up the Bombers’ first TD of the night and put the wheels in motion for their ninth sectional title overall and first since 2010. Fleming’s grab set up a nine-yard TD run by Trevor Hill one play later for a 10-0 lead with a little more than a minute left in the first half.
“I just held my hands up,” said Fleming. “It was a beautiful ball by Dylan. It just kind of fell into my hands.”
Wright was confident Fleming would make the catch.
“I had no doubt about it when I threw it,” he said.
The Bombers (10-2) will host Bremen next Friday for the regional title. The Lions beat Woodlan 20-13.
“The kids executed very well,” Rensselaer coach Chris Meeks said.
With the 10-0 advantage, the Bombers went with their tight wing-T formation (football in a phone booth) to blow out the Eagles (6-6) with a 27-point outburst in the third quarter to take a commanding 37-0 lead.
“We talked at halftime about going to the dog,” said running back Rylan Arihood of the name for the tight formation. “We knew that it would work well, and it did. I love running the dog. We can’t get beat when we play like that.”
Hill and Arihood each ran for two touchdowns in the third. Arihood finished with 146 yards rushing and three TDs, while Hill added 85 yards.
“In the second half, we stepped it up a notch,” Meeks said.
Isaiah Cole ran for two TDs in the second half for the Eagles.
The Bombers settled for a Luke Robertson 31-yard field goal to go up 3-0. The drive started from the Eagles 31-yard line.
Rensselear couldn’t capitalize on its next two possessions, despite starting from the Bowman 36 and its own 41.
Neither team could get going in the second quarter until Wright connected with Fleming. It set up the big second half.
“To move on we’ve got to have that for four quarters,” Meeks said.