Vikings erases 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, falls in overtime to Cougars
Jamie Shell / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Already playing without the services of starters Tre Jackson (broken hand), Stetson Stafford (concussion) and Lucas Morton (neck/knee), Avery lost another key cog early in its game against Heritage, as wide receiver/running back/defensive back Austin Robbie suffered a broken ankle, sidelining the senior for the remainder of the season.
The Cougars dominated the stat sheet in the first quarter, topping the Big Red 123-40 in total yardage, but the teams played to a scoreless tie after 12 minutes.
Heritage scored on the opening play of the second period, however, as running back Drew Hoilman capped a six-play, 92-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Triston McCarty converted the first of his four extra-point kicks in the game to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
After an Avery punt and an exchange of turnovers, Heritage used the deep strike to pad its lead, as quarterback Trevor Robinson connected with wide receiver Daulton Buchanan for a 59-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 7:34 to play before halftime.
The Vikings, operating out of an offset I-formation and power I-formation for the first time this season, found success against a flexible Cougars defense. On its first offensive play from scrimmage following the Cougars' touchdown pass, Childress found space on the periphery of the MHHS defense and outran the chasing Cougars for a 44-yard touchdown run. Alex Magner's extra-point kick cut Heritage's lead to 14-7.
Exploiting what it thought was a weak spot in the Vikings defense, Mountain Heritage used the pass to again hit pay dirt, as Robinson found Jake McClellan on a 47-yard touchdown toss and a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Late in the first half, Avery began to gather momentum with two key events. Childress capped a nine-play, 67-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge to draw AHS within 21-14. The Big Red defense then held the Cougars off the scoreboard with a Childress quarterback sack in the final seconds of the half to preserve the seven-point margin at intermission.
The third period was a quarter to forget for the Vikings. Each of the team's first three offensive possessions ended the same way: Fumbling away the football to the Cougars. Fortunately for AHS, Heritage scored only one touchdown with its opportunities to take a 28-14 lead.
Late in the third period, Avery managed to hold on to the slippery pigskin and experienced positive results. The Vikings drove 85 yards in seven plays that overlapped the third and fourth quarters, finding the end zone on a one-yard quarterback plunge by Ty Polsgrove to draw within 28-21 with 10:36 to play in regulation.
Avery's defense played with passion and heart throughout the game, no time more evident than during the fourth period. The defense bent, but refused to break, evidenced by turning Heritage away on a pair of fourth-down conversion attempts midway through the quarter. The Vikings offense capitalized on the stops as Childress broke loose for his third score of the game, a 56-yard touchdown run. Magner's extra point tied the game 28-28 with 5:38 to play in the period.
Both teams had one final possession in regulation and each drove into opposing territory, only to be denied by defensive stands to end regulation deadlocked.
Heritage had the first possession of overtime and scored on its first play, a Lucas King 10-yard run. The Cougars added a King two-point conversion run to seize a 36-28 lead.
On Avery's possession, the Vikings appeared to score on a one-yard Polsgrove quarterback sneak on third-and-goal. The referee called an illegal procedure penalty against AHS, however, inciting the ire of Vikings head coach Darrell Brewer. The head coach was demonstrative in his disagreement with the officiating crew, so much so that Brewer was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and disqualified from the remainder of the contest. The dismissal from the field was the first such event in Brewer's coaching career, although he did receive a disqualification once as a Viking during his playing days.
The penalties pushed Avery 20 yards from the end zone, and the club could not overcome the final obstacle, failing to score on fourth down to suffer its eighth consecutive defeat.
"I'm very proud of our boys," Brewer said after the game. "With all the injuries and everything going against them, they deserved the opportunity to win the game."
Avery gained 343 yards in total offense for the game, including 264 rushing yards. Mountain Heritage amassed 536 total yards, including 349 rushing yards. AHS committed five turnovers, while the Cougars surrendered the football three times. The teams combined for 19 penalties and 194 penalty yards.
Childress led the Vikings offense with 207 rushing yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. Bryce Pittman added 36 rushing yards. Hoilman paced MHHS with 110 rushing yards on 13 carries with a pair of scores. Heritage quarterback Robinson was 11-of-15 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Avery celebrates Senior Night this Friday, Oct. 26, when it battles Mitchell in The AJT Border Battle Classic to close out the regular season. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at MacDonald Stadium.