Wilson junior quarterback Xander McLaurin and senior receiver Michael Bruner picked the perfect time to hook up for their first and only completion on Friday night. The Bruins trailed visiting Compton by five points with with less than two minutes to play when McLaurin went over the top to find Bruner in the back corner of the end zone for the game-winning 25-yard touchdown, 27-26.
“I was a little frustrated (during the game) but I knew they were trying to bracket me so the safety was on me the whole night,” Bruner said. “But I knew I was going to get mine in the end. I knew it.”
Bruner had over 1,000 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns last season, so Compton rightfully game planned to stop the speedy wideout, but McLaurin noticed something before the touchdown pass.
“When I saw the safety roll over top I knew it was (Bruner),” McLaurin said. “It was something a bit different but I’m glad it paid off.”
Despite being understandably sloppy this game was thrilling with seven lead changes and phenomenal individual efforts. Wilson sophomore running back Johnell Gray had 14 carries for 115 yards, and Compton junior running back Deon Johnson scored three touchdowns on nine carries.
“I felt like it was an after Thanksgiving football game where we all met at the playground,” Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said. “I knew we’d have a lot of mistakes but I have to give it up to Compton. All we can do is get better every week.”
Compton surprised everyone by passing on the the first play of the game out of its double wing formation. Quarterback Allen Monroe turned the play action pass into a 42-yard touchdown to senior receiver Tyler Huffman.
Wilson answered with a seven minute drive that McLaurin capped with a touchdown pass to senior Tyrie Robinson out of the backfield. Compton came back with a six minute touchdown drive of its own that Johnson capped with his first touchdown to put Compton up 12-7 early in the second quarter.
McLaurin pushed the Bruins back ahead by feeding receiver Nick Timko. The senior caught a 27-yard touchdown over the top, and it looked like the Wilson could pad its lead before halftime but Huffman came up with the first of his two interceptions at the goal line.
Another surprising long pass from Monroe to Erick Batriz Barrios got Compton into the Wilson red zone, and Johnson scored again with less than a minute left in the second quarter to give Compton a 20-14 lead at halftime.
Wilson fed Gray to start the second half and the sophomore scored from 17 yards out to give the Bruins a 21-20 advantage.
Both teams made great halftime adjustments on defense and the scoring slowed down until a Wilson fumble set Compton up in scoring position. Johnson took the first carry of the ensuing drive 26 yards to paydirt for a 26-21 lead with five minutes to play.
McLaurin led Wilson on the game-winning drive that included a fourth-down pickup to Timko. With less than two minutes left Bruner beat his defender to the back pylon where McLaurin perfectly dropped his third touchdown pass onto Bruner’s hands.
Wilson safety Dallas Cooper came up with an interception on the ensuing drive to clinch the victory.
“Our guys worked hard and gave it all they had but I don’t think we played to the best of our ability,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “We left a few points out there. I have to give credit to (Wilson) because they kept it together.”
Wilson is scheduled to visit Long Beach Poly next week while Compton is scheduled to face Millikan on Saturday.
Zander McLaurin: 10/21, 148 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Johnell Gray: 14 carries, 115 yards, TD
Nick Timko: 3 receptions, 62 yards, TD
Allen Monroe: 4/8, 100 yards, TD, INT
Deon Johnson: 9 carries, 71 yards, 3 TD