Chugiak happy to be heading home

Losing streak at AFS leaves ‘Stangs 2-2 at midway point


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Chugiak running back Justin Schneider looks for room against the Bartlett defense during the Golden Bears’ 35-13 win over the Mustangs at Anchorage Football Stadium Sept. 3.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Homecoming can’t come at a better time for the Chugiak Mustangs, who dropped their second straight game at Anchorage Football Stadium with a 35-13 Cook Inlet Conference loss to Bartlett on Saturday, Sept. 3.

“I can hardly wait to get home,” said Chugiak football coach Duncan Shackelford after watching his team fall to 2-2 overall and in the CIC.

After opening their season with back-to-back wins at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium, Shackelford’s bunch looked lost in the big city once again on Saturday. The team was outgained 393-210 in total offense and had just four plays of 10 yards or more.

“We looked like plow horses,” Shackelford said. “We just didn’t have that pop, that energy.”

The back-to-school bug has been making its rounds at Chugiak, but Shackelford didn’t want to blame sickness for his team’s woes against the Golden Bears.

“I was just disappointed with the effort today,” he said.

After a Dane Prince kickoff return to open the game set the Mustangs up at midfield, Chugiak’s first drive stalled when Craig Lowe’s 46-yard field goal try hooked just left.

The teams traded punts before Bartlett opened the scoring with a 12-play, 79-yard drive that was kept alive with a successful fake punt and capped with a 6-yard run by Michael Heckmann on the first play of the second quarter.

Chugiak countered with its only big play of the afternoon, a 63-yard option keeper by quarterback Jacob Wenzl that set up a 1-yard Dylan Timberlake touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.

Two plays later, Anthony ripped off a 56-yard run, and three plays after that the Golden Bears had a 21-7 lead on a 2-yard plunge by Heckmann.

Lowe nailed a 30-yard field goal late in the second quarter to make it 21-10 at halftime.

Chugiak receiver and defensive back Tyler Rohde said the team needs to get more aggressive on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve gotta come out with explosion,” Rohde said.

Honore finished with 77 yards rushing for Bartlett, which also got 51 yards on 12 carries from Heckmann.

Wenzl led Chugiak with 94 yards on 12 carries but completed just four passes for 18 yards thanks in part to at least two dropped balls by his receivers. Timberlake’s 28 yards on seven carries were the most of a six-man Chugiak running back corps that averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.

Another blocked kick by the Chugiak defense — this time on a punt attempt by King-Dunbar — turned out to be the backbreaker for Chugiak in the third quarter. After fumbling the snap, King-Dunbar recovered to pick up the ball just in time to kick it into the teeth of the Chugiak rush. But the ball bounced directly back to the Golden Bears senior, and he ran 38 yards for a first down. Keenan Honore finished off the drive with a 23-yard touchdown run.

Lowe’s second field goal of the game, a 25-yarder, cut the lead to 27-13 with 11:17 left in the fourth, and Honore capped the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run and subsequent conversion.

Chugiak’s next game — homecoming — is at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak against the non conference Colony Knights.

Rohde said he’ll be happy to get back to the friendly confines of Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.

“It’s just more comfortable,” he said.

He’s hoping a huge homecoming crowd will help cure what’s been ailing the Mustangs.

“I love having the energy behind me when you get the crowd pumping you up,” he said. “Even if we’re behind it just pushes us to do better.”

 

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

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