Whew! Chargers Edge Greene County in OT, 29-27
Updated: Aug 29
After spending the month of August watching all seventy six shows of the Netflix series "Friday Night Lights"--a story about a fictional high school football team in Texas--this observer was ready for the real deal: the ACGC version of Friday Night Lights!! The Chargers did not disappoint as they opened the season with an exciting 29-27 overtime win over Greene County of Jefferson.
It was a game of contrasts in a couple of ways. First, it appeared that the Chargers were going to win in a rout when it built a 21-0 lead throughout the first half, with its third touchdown coming with just twenty nine seconds remaining before halftime. The Rams were not about to concede, as it scored with three seconds left in the half and added two more scores in the second half to knot the game at 21-21 at the end of regulation.
The second contrast had to do with the different styles of play. The Chargers used its successful running game to pile up 382 yards on the ground. The Rams relied more on its passing game and big plays to put points on the board. The visitors came up with four passing plays of over thirty five yards in addition to a seventy nine yard run by quarterback Bryce Stalder.
The ACGC running game was in high gear from the get go, as it accumulated 178 yards on the ground before halftime. Ninety two of those yards came on a twenty play drive that resulted in the first points of the game.
Using a mix of power runs by Gavin Cornelison into the interior line and successful runs by Charlie Crawford to the outside, the Chargers scored with quarterback Brock Littler hitting pay dirt from the three yard line with three seconds remaining in the quarter. Crawford's PAT gave the home team a 7-0 lead.
Following non scoring possessions by each team to open the second stanza, a poor punt by the Rams gave the ball to the Chargers at the visitors twenty nine yard line. ACGC responded with a five play drive that ended with Littler's eight yard TD scamper. Crawford added the point after to make the score 14-0.
The third Charger score of the half came after the defense again forced the Rams to punt, putting the ball deep in ACGC territory. Littler and crew responded with a nifty ninety three yard drive that was aided by a fifteen yard personal foul penalty by the Rams.
The big play of the drive was Littler's thirty nine yard touchdown pass to Ben Marsh with 0:29 showing on the clock. Crawford's third successful PAT gave the home team what seemed to be a safe 21-0 lead.
When a Charger on side kick was recovered by the Rams at the fifty yard line with 0:26 to go before halftime, the Rams milked the clock to score its first points of the game with three seconds remaining in the half. Stalder's forty two yard touchdown pass was caught by Max Riley just before the halftime break. After a successful PAT, it was 21-7 Chargers at the half.
Following the intermission ACGC received the kickoff and moved the ball to the Ram twenty yard line before two penalties pushed the ball back to the thirty three. On a fourth down play Littler's pass was intercepted by Ram Crew Conner in the end zone and returned to the Ram twenty five yard line.
From there the visitors drove seventy five yards for its second touchdown. Stalder took it in from the seven and after the PAT was added the Rams were within a touchdown at 21-14 with 2:45 remaining in quarter number three.
Not to be outdone, the Chargers marched to the visitors' nine yard line by quarter's end with Cornelison picking up forty four yards on the drive. But the drive stalled due to a five yard penalty and a running play that also lost five yards.
After an exchange of possessions the Rams drove seventy yards with Stalder passing for sixty eight yards including a five yard TD toss to Brenner Gallagher. The PAT tied the game at 21-21.
In its final possession in regulation the Chargers drove to the Greene County fifteen yard line in nine plays when the Chargers elected to kick a field goal with eight ticks showing on the scoreboard clock. Jensen's attempt was blocked and the Rams then took a knee to end the game in regulation.
The overtime period gave each team an opportunity to score in four plays from the ten yard line. After Stalder scored on the first play in overtime, the ACGC interior line came through with what was arguably the most dramatic play of the game when it blocked the PAT attempt. This observer asked several people (including both fans and coaches) who blocked the kick, but no one seemed to know. An invisible hand perhaps?
Trailing 27-21, it was ACGC's turn with the ball. After Littler picked up four yards to the six yard line, "workhorse" Cornelison took the ball into the end zone to tie the game at 27 each. Rather than risk a blocked PAT, the Chargers elected to give the ball to Cornelison again and once again the senior came throug--this time with a two point conversion and the sweet taste of victory belonged to the home team!
As the team gathered at midfield for words from coach Cody Matthewson, an excited player dumped a cooler of water on the coach. It has become part of American football tradition after a thrilling victory. And thrilling it was!
Matthewson's post game comments reflect how pleased and thrilled he was with his team's performance. "I'm really prod of the way our boys persevered. There were a lot of highs and lows. We have a lot of self inflicted wounds we need to clean up heading into next week. Greene County is a very good team and will be in the mix to be district champion in their class 2A district. That is a game I'll remember forever. What a great crowd of supporters. The atmosphere was a fun one."
The Chargers out gained the Rams overall 460 yards to 300, with 408 of those on the ground for ACGC. The Rams came up with 163 passing yards while ACGC had 52 yards through the air.
Cornelison led the Charger rushing attack with 214 yards on 33 carries.
Score by quarter:
Greene Co. 0 7 7 7 6--27
ACGC 7 14 0 0 8--29
Offense: Passing: Littler: (3 completions out of 7 attempts for 52 yards; one touchdown and one interception) Rushing: Crawford: (19 carries for 91 yards; no touchdowns) Jensen (3-19-0) Littler (15-84-2) Cornelison (33-214-1) Receiving: Marsh (1 for 20 yards; one touchdown) Rumelhart (1-23-0) Cornelison (1-0-0)
Defense: Marsh (5.5 tackles, 3 solo) Crawford (1.5-1) Kading (1-1) Rumelhart (1.5-0) Kunkle (1.5-1) Slaybaugh (.5-0) Jensen (3.5-1) Littler (1-1) Muller (.5-0) Ayers (1.5-0) Cornelison (3.5-3) Reno (2.5-2) Newby (1.0-0) Tunink (2.5-2) Jacobe (2.0-0) Fuller (.5.0)
Kickoffs: Crawford (3-131 yards)
Kick returns: Crawford (1-22 yards) Jensen(1-15) Solorzano (1-0)