STEVE JUNGA BLADE SPORTS WRITER | 09/29/2017, 9:52pm EDT
Photo: Whitmer’s Josh Close scores one of his two touchdowns against Central Catholic. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
At long last — 1,799 days to be exact — Whitmer can again celebrate a Three Rivers Athletic Conference football victory against Central Catholic.
The Panthers snapped Central’s 30-game TRAC winning streak Friday night, taking a 21-14 victory against the host Fighting Irish before an estimated standing-room-only crowd of 8,300 at Gallagher Stadium.
“We said, ‘Why not us, and why not now?’ ” second-year Whitmer head coach Ken Winters said. “The players wanted it. They were hungry, and it showed tonight.
“Walking off after this game as a loser for four years hurt, and it doesn’t hurt for one day, it hurts for an entire year. To come off a winner, it’s a great feeling. It was a team effort. Hat’s off to our coaching staff. They did a great job game-planning. And, hat’s off to the kids. They executed the game plan.”
Whitmer (6-0, 3-0 TRAC), Ohio’s sixth-ranked team in this week’s Associated Press Division I poll, scored both of its first-half touchdowns off Central miscues, and got the game-winning score on a 7-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Riley Keller to tight end Josh Close with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
That came after the Irish (5-1, 2-1), ranked No. 2 in D-III, tied the game at 14 on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Troy Durden to Michael Griffin 1:40 into the third.