There's a good chance the Waubonsie Valley football players will not question a play call coming from coach Paul Murphy for some time.
With the score tied 7-7 and less than five minutes left in the first half, Murphy called for an outside run with his team facing a third-and-17 from their own 3-yard line following a Metea Valley sack. What may have seemed like an overly conservative call by some resulted in a 91-yard run by Nate Ashford that led to 5-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Westwood to Josh LeMoine that helped propel the Warriors to a 24-21 victory over the visiting Mustangs Friday night.
"When I called it the kids were like, Why you calling (that play)?" Murphy said. "I said, you guys have got to trust me. I'm the one watching all the film, I'm the one watching how they're trying to defend us. Trust me. I've got 40 years of experience. At the half the kids were, 'Coach, we don't doubt you anymore.' "
The big run gave the Warriors a 14-7 lead and a big boost heading into halftime, but there was plenty of doubt about the outcome yet as Metea Valley (1-4, 1-4), despite trailing 21-7 after three quarters and 24-14 with six minutes left, closed to within 24-21 and had one last chance in the final minute before coming up short.
The personal-long 91-yarder was not Ashford's only big play on the night. His 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter put Waubonsie Valley up 21-7 before sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne led a late charge for the Mustangs.
"Coach Murph called an outside play, so I just went to the outside, I saw the big opening and I turned it on," said Ashford, who finished the night with 192 yards on 21 carries. "But (Metea) came hard. It was pretty great to get the win, especially against them."
Mustangs coach Ben Kleinhans felt his team lost this DuPage Valley Conference battle with their rivals in the first half but could not argue at all about his team's fight in the second half. That's when Thorne used a 21-yard touchdown run and a 9-yard scoring pass to Michael Brown to give his team a chance.
"We didn't play well at first and we lost the game in the first half," said Kleinhans, whose team has suffered more than its share of close setbacks. "We gave them the unfortunate play early and gave them great field position and they scored. We put ourselves in a hole right away. And then we, especially offensive, played very sloppy in the first half."
A fake punt that came up short on the night's first possession gave the Warriors the ball on the Mustangs 15 and it resulted in a 5-yard TD pass from Westwood to Josh LeMoine for a quick 7-0 Warriors lead. That, coupled with the score following the long Ashford run, helped the Warriors lead much of the night even though the Mustangs did close to within 24-21 and got the ball back near midfield with a minute to go following a Warriors turnover on a high snap.
"We played hard. The defense got us the ball back and we had a shot," Kleinhans said. "We were hoping to get down there in field-goal range or get a touchdown for the win. We just didn't execute."
Metea's last-ditch effort was stalled at the end by a sack and a holding penalty.