|VIDEO: Wayne Hills claims state title with wild win over Wayne Valley|
Apparently, something about MetLife Stadium inspires Wayne Hills to improvisation. Six years after a famous lateral on a kickoff return won a state football title, the Patriots created a new legend in a 31-24 win over arch-rival Wayne Valley.
Hunter Hayek's desperation pass back to his quarterback allowed Wayne Hills to convert a fourth down in overtime. Luca Grave scored the winning touchdown two plays later on a four-yard run.
Still, Wayne Valley had its chance in overtime, and appeared to be headed for the end zone after a pass completion. But the receiver fumbled the ball as he neared the pylon, and the ball rolled out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback, clinching the North 1, Group IV title for Wayne Hills.
The key play came on a fourth-and-6, a designed trick play where Brendan DeVera handed the ball to Hayek behind his back. Hayek was then supposed to throw to a receiver downfield, but the Indians weren't fooled, and it was all the senior could do to toss the ball back to DeVera as he was being tackled.
DeVera also appeared to have little room to run, but picked up a couple of blocks as he skirted the sideline to complete what will surely be the most famous eight-yard gain in Wayne Hills football history.
For three quarters, this game belonged to third-seeded Wayne Valley. Quarterback Grant Ferrauilo threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns as the Indians built a 24-10 lead.
A.J. Tedesco had four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Montero and Elijah Beard also made touchdown catches, and Montero booted a 34-yard field goal. Nick Gould ran for 52 yards before leaving the game with an injury; his absence clearly hurt the Indians in the second half.
Wayne Hills, which struggled offensively for much of the game, suddenly burst to life. DeVera hit Tyler Hayek on a slant that turned into a 46-yard touchdown. After forcing a punt, the Patriots struck again as Grave took a screen pass 59 yards to the house to tie the game.
Grave scored three times on the night, rushing for 95 yards to go along with 76 receiving yards. Tyler Hayek also had 76 yards receiving. DeVera was 12-for-23 passing for 193 yards.
Wayne Hills, the top seed, last won a state sectional title in 2011. The year before, in the year MetLife Stadium first opened, the Patriots also won a title thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown that featured a lateral in the final seconds to beat Old Tappan.
Wayne Hills won its last 11 games after losing to an out-of-state opponent to start the season.
Wayne Valley, which reached the state sectional final for the first time in nine years, finishes 9-3.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school state playoff football sectional final game, click play in the box at left.