Mike Hallett appeared to be in a gambling mood Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
The Heidelberg coach was taking all kinds of risks, including an onside kick and going for it on fourth down on four occasions.
Of course, thanks to Issue 6 on Tuesday's ballots, Wilmington ought to know a thing or two about gambling.
The Quakers rallied from deficits of 17-3 and 20-10, using a powerful running game and a steady defense to beat Heidelberg, 23-20.
Backup running back Astin Laury ripped through the Heidelberg defense for 186 yards on 27 carries, an average of almost seven yards a rush.
Laury didn't score a touchdown, but he played major roles in every Wilmington score. His 55-yard dash in the final minute of the second quarter led to a Quaker touchdown, and may have been the key play in turning back Heidelberg's early momentum.
Wilmington 23, Heidelberg 20
Wilmington 01067- 23
Heidelberg 101000- 20
H - Jesse Hawkins 44 field goal, 9:18
H - Dawond Roddy 4 pass from Andrew Miller
W - Donald Rhinehimer 40 field goal, 7:51
H - Mike Preston 30 pass (Hawkins kick), 1:24
W - Marque Jones 5 run (Aaron Pohly kick), :35
H - Hawkins 42 field goal, :00
W - Wes Anders 16 pass from Billy Blackburn (Pohly kick blocked), :03
W - Brandon Hiatt 6 pass from Blackburn (Rhinehimer kick), 7:24
RUSHING: Wilmington - Astin Laury 27-185; Rex Pitsinger 9-57; Jones 5-31; TEAM - 1-(minus 1). Heidelberg - Jemar Lewis 22-149; Adrian Balser 8-33; Miller 9-22.
PASSING: Wilmington - Blackburn 10-14-1-64; Jeremy Stuckey 1-1-0-13. Heidelberg - Miller 10-22-0-110.
RECEIVING: Wilmington - Hiatt 4-34; Jones 3-0; Anders 2-33; Stuckey 1-7; Luke Green 1-3. Heidelberg - Roddy 4-35; Preston 2-41; Lucas Bauer 2-21; Lewis 2-13.
"We knew he had it in him. It's exciting to see," said Wilmington coach Barry Wulf, whose team improved to 3-4, 3-5 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. "We've been beat up with injuries, and we go with a next-man-up philosophy, and it was Aston's turn. He really stepped up, and I'm so proud of that young man."
Heidelberg (2-6, 1-6 OAC) appeared to pull away just before halftime, when quarterback Andrew Miller hit Mike Preston in stride with a 30-yard TD pass with 1:24 left in the half. Heidelberg looked poised to take a 14-point lead into the half.
Because the Quakers had barely thrown the ball to that point, it seemed they would just run the ball and head to halftime.
On first down from its own 22, Laury got a handoff, burst into the secondary and finally was pushed out of bounds at the Heidelberg 23.
Laury tried to pass off the credit for the play afterwards.
"The line did a great job opening it up for me, and allowing me to get that run," he said. "I owe that to the line."
Wulf said the Quakers weren't sure if they'd go for a score when they assumed possession.
"We got the big play, and as soon as we got the big play we just said, 'We're gonna go for it,'" Wulf said.
Wilmington scored four plays later on a 7-yard misdirection to Marque Jones with 35 seconds left.
Heidelberg's Adrian Balser returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and the Student Princes capitalized when Jesse Hawkins hit on his second field goal of the day (42 yards) as time expired. The Student Princes led 20-10 at the break.
"We challenged them at halftime; we didn't feel like we were playing up to our potential," Wulf said. "We went from there."
Heidelberg's offense, which had been paced by Jemar Lewis, was slowed considerably in the second half. Heidelberg picked up yards (Lewis had 146 on the day), but never got inside the Wilmington 20. Meanwhile, Wilmington continued to use the running game, picking up big yardage.
With three seconds left in the third quarter, Wilmington quarterback Billy Blackburn found a double-covered Wes Anders in the corner of the end zone.
The Quakers pulled ahead midway through the fourth quarter, when on a fourth-and-four from the Heidelberg 6, Blackburn dropped back and shot a quick pass to Brandon Hiatt for a touchdown.
Heidelberg started its ensuing drive on its 40, and after three plays faced a fourth-and-five from the 45.
Hallett called his final timeout with 6:21 left in the game.
"We knew we were up against it on the clock a little bit," Hallett said. "There was an opportunity to change the momentum and go make a play."
Hallett kept the offense on the field. Miller rolled out and threw to Lucas Bauer along the Heidelberg sideline. Bauer caught the ball, and had enough yardage for a first down, but the official ruled he did not have a foot in bounds.
"It's a controversial call, but whatever, it's done," Bauer said. "We can't do anything about it now."
Hallett did not criticize the ruling.
"It kind of looked like (he was in bounds) from our end, but the official's standing right there," Hallett said. "He makes his call, that's his call."
Heidelberg was 1 of 4 on fourth downs.
Wilmington was able to run out the remainder of the clock.