CRAWFORDSVILLE - Ten yards, and a two point conversion, stood between Crawfordsville and victory Friday night. To a man, the Athenians felt that those were no obstacles.

Those feelings were correct.

Ross Wheeler ran in a naked bootleg 14 yards for a touchdown, then Daniel Keeling powered in the two point conversion as the Athenians defeated West Lafayette 15-14 in overtime to open the 2005 football season.

West Lafayette scored first in overtime on a fourth down pass play from James Wodicka to Steven Hilton. The extra point put the Red Devils up 14-7.The Athenians ran just one play, a four yard loss, before Wheeler’s score, and then Keeling’s power dive up the middle garnered the win.

Crawfordsville head coach Rex Ryker said he was going to go for the win all along.

"The coaches always say at home go for the win," said Ryker, "the kids wouldn’t have wanted it any other way."

Ryker said Keeling knew exactly where he was going with the football for the two point conversion.

"He called it where he wanted it," said Ryker, "and he took it to the hole."

"The 31 was open all night," said a jubilant Keeling. "We knew we could get 10 yards because we could get it all night. It never crossed our mind we wouldn’t get them."

Keeling rushed for 158 yards on 36 carries, and he credits the offensive line for his production.

"Our line is huge – we wanted them to wear down people," said Keeling. "We wore them down throughout the game."

Ryker agreed. "We will live and die behind our offensive line."

The Red Devils struck first, as Wodicka found Hilton on a 26-yard pass. The conversion made the score 7-0. Crawfordsville sputtered at first on offense, and the ball didn’t get out of the Athenians’ end of the field for the first nine minutes of the game. Ryker, however, was not worried by the quick strike against his defense.

"Our goal was to whether the first quarter," said Ryker. "We had to be ready to come back from that. We had a letdown at safety, but it was an aggressive mistake and I can live with that."

The Red Devils used a spread offense, but after the first quarter they were stymied by Crawfordsville’s defense.

"Cody Spear moved to tackle and stopped the run, and that allowed us to move Kevin Long to outside line backer for pass protection," said Ryker. "We did a great job to hold an offense like that to just seven points in four quarters."

Crawfordsville took control of the game in the second quarter, converting on a 14-play, 64-yard drive that took 7:12 off the clock. Keeling ran it in from five yards after taking the handoff from Wheeler, who pulled down a high snap in the process.

The Athenians had chances to win the game in regulation. Crawfordville drove down to the Red Devils’ 20 on their first series of the third quarter, but Wheeler fumbled on fourth and one and the ball went over on downs.

With 9:54 left in the game, Crawfordsville started a drive at its own 26. After nine plays, the ball was at the West Lafayette 12, but Wheeler fumbled and the ball was recovered by Robby Racette.

Given new life, the Red Devils started a march of their own. Wodicka started to find openings in the Athenians’ defense, and they soon moved down to the 12-yard line facing third and two. A pass fell incomplete, then instead of a field goal, the Devils tried to convert a fourth down. Wodicka called his own number on a quarterback keeper. He had the first down yardage, but the officials called a clipping penalty. The Athenians then held on the long fourth down play, and the game headed into overtime.

Next week, the Athenians play host to Danville in a Sagamore Conference matchup. Ryker says his team will be ready.

"We’re 1-0 this week, and we’ll let them enjoy being 1-0 until Saturday at midnight. After that, our goal will be to be 1-0 next week."