Mustang meltdown

Shackelford shoulders blame for team’s tough loss


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Chugiak defensive back Tyler Rohde makes an interception over Dimond receiver Elijah Pili during Dimond’s 14-7 Cook Inlet Conference win at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium on Aug. 17 in Chugiak.

MATT TUNSETH

Chugiak head football coach Duncan Shackelford put the blame for his team’s 14-7 Cook Inlet Conference loss to Dimond on Aug. 17 squarely on the shoulders of a lone Mustang.

Himself.

“My fault. Absolutely my fault,” Shackelford said after watching his team melt down in the fourth quarter of their home opener at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.

The game’s key play was a blocked Chugiak punt with 2:36 left in the game and the Mustangs clinging to a 7-6 lead. Shackelford said he wanted to call timeout just before the snap, but the ninth-year head coach said he didn’t relay the message to punter Chase Wilson.

“I didn’t communicate well enough,” Shackelford said.

By the time Shackelford tried to call time, the ball had already been snapped and Dimond captain Armani Tufaga had raced in to stuff Wilson’s attempt. Three plays later, Tufaga scampered into the end zone for a 13-yard score that proved to be the game-winner.

The loss erased a fine defensive effort for the Mustangs, who allowed just 190 yards of total offense and kept the Lynx out of the end zone for the first three quarters of the game.

“Defense played great tonight,” Shackelford said.

Chugiak fell to 0-1 in the Cook Inlet Conference and 0-2 overall. Dimond improved to 1-0 in the CIC and 1-1 overall.

Chugiak’s defense was its best offense, as well. With the teams deadlocked in a scoreless tie late in the third quarter, Mustangs senior defensive back Deven Ferriss got the home crowd going when he stepped in front of a Samuel Liaga pass and sprinted 64 yards to the end zone to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.

Dimond answered with a 2-yard Liaga touchdown run early in the fourth, but linebacker Dakota Benzel stuffed the Lynx’s conversion run to keep the Mustangs up 7-6.

But Chugiak couldn’t close the door, thanks mainly to a woeful offensive effort that produced just 56 yards from scrimmage.

“We have to be more precise and more disciplined,” Shackelford said of his offense, whose longest play was just nine yards.

The Mustangs also turned the ball over three times and managed only six first downs.

Despite the poor offensive showing, senior captain Justin Benzel said the team’s defensive effort gives the Mustangs something to build on.

“We played with so much intensity,” Benzel said. “We came out to win. Unfortunately, we didn’t play all four quarters.”

Chugiak’s next game is against West (1-0 CIC, 1-1 overall) on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. at Anchorage Football Stadium. The Eagles defeated Eagle River 49-6 on Saturday, Aug. 18.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com.

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