INDIANAPOLIS — Cameron McGrone got caught peeking in the backfield when he was supposed to be concentrating on his man in coverage. One thought quickly came to mind when Center Grove receiver Sam Hohlt caught a lofting pass and turned upfield toward the goal line.
“I’m thinking I just lost us the game, honestly,” McGrone said Friday night.
McGrone, a 2018 Michigan commit, quickly adjusted to the situation, chased down Hohlt and punched the ball free to preserve a 14-12 win for his Lawrence Central High School team. Lawrence Central recovered the loose ball with a little more than 1 minute left in regulation with a 14-10 lead. It had taken the lead less than a minute earlier on a 50-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Donyell Meredith to wide receiver Donivan Wright.
Meredith took a safety with 1 second remaining trying to run out the clock on a fourth-down play to account for the final score.
“I got undisciplined for a second, got my eyes in the backfield, and when you don’t have your eyes on your man he runs away from you,” McGrone said. “I saw the ball in the air. I thought I was fast enough to get it but I wasn’t, and he beat me. But, like I’m always taught, never give up if you’re beat. Try to go for that ball.”
McGrone saw Hohlt carrying the ball out wide, punched at it and sent it flying across the field.
Earlier on Friday, McGrone received his U.S. Army All-American game jersey in a ceremony at Lawrence Central. During the ceremony, coach Bill Peebles reminded the players assembled that for all the excitement of McGrone’s honor, they had one goal in mind when the hoopla died down.
“Win,” the players said in unison.
Lawrence Central got the chance for the victory because McGrone and the defense kept Center Grove at bay despite playing most of the first three quarters on its own side of the 50-yard line. Center Grove was set up with repeated good field position by punt returns and its own strong defense but led only 10-0 before Lawrence Central got its first touchdown on an interception return with less than 1 minute to play in the first half.