MURRAY — In the middle of Mustang Field Wednesday, Wayne's running back Clayton Kiefer could be seen posing for pictures with his proud parents. He smiled big — his white jersey and signature handtowel both soiled with dark mud.
He had reason to smile.
Kiefer had just led the Wayne Falcons to an 82-57 victory over the Murray Mustangs in the first round of the Eight-Man state football playoffs. He carried the ball 29 times for 292 yards and five touchdowns in the victory.
"He's as tough of a runner as we faced all year," said Murray head coach Keith Shields. "At times tonight, we thought we had him stopped and he'd make a great cutback, or we thought we had him and he'd carry us three or four more yards upfield."
On paper, Kiefer doesn't look that dangerous at 5-7, 160 pounds.
"It's not his size that gets you," said Wayne head caoch Bart Elliot. "It's his toughness. He is just a hard-nosed kid who refuses to go to the ground. He deserves all the praise and pats on the back he will get tonight. He works his butt off."
Neither team led by more than 10 points in the opening half as the two teams went back and forth trading touchdowns. Wayne led 36-31 at halftime thanks to a 50-yard touchdown reception by Trent Carpenter with 15.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The two teams continued to trade touchdowns through the third quarter until Wayne freshman Nick Mattly recovered an onside kick with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.
"We didn't want to kick it to their returnmen (Andrew Rider and Seth Nerness)," Elliot said. "So we called an onside kick and if we got the football, great. If we didn't — because they are such good returnmen — we still wouldn't be giving up a lot of field position."
Less than two minutes after Mattly's fumble recovery, Kiefer capitalized on the turnover, barreling into the endzone for a 2-yard touchdown, making the score 68-57 with :36 remaining in the third quarter.
"That fumble recovery gave them the momentum," Shields said. "And credit them, they took that momentum and finished the game."
Murray was held scoreless the entire fourth quarter.
Murray finishes the season with a record of 8-3 overall. They will lose seven seniors including Alex Shaw, Tyler Cashman, Collin Titus, Cole Weir, Sam Rockhold, George Barber and Andrew Rider.
"These seniors have 39 career victories, which if I counted right, is by far the most victories of any senior class at Murray," Shields said. "The things they've done on and off the field have been incredible."
This is the only class in Murray history to make the state playoffs in all four of their seasons.
Nerness led the Mustangs with 144 rushing yards on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns. Rider added 137 yards on 15 carries.
Matt Barnes picked up 27 yards on the ground on 10 carries with one score.
Barnes was 8-of-19 passing for 180 yards and two scores. Rockhold and Rider each had one touchdown reception.
Rockhold led the team with 14 total tackles, while Barber added nine.