Eagle River football ends season victorious
Thanks to a costly mistake by sophomore quarterback Zyrelle Jones, Eagle River football held on to defeat Bartlett 31-25 in the regular season finale Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Wolves’ den.
Trailing by six with no timeouts and under 15 seconds left in regulation, Jones spiked the ball at Eagle River’s 1-yard line, however, it was fourth down and the Wolves took over on downs. Prior to Jones’ blunder, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback leaped for the end zone but Eagle River stopped him just inches shy of the goal line and prevented the game-tying score.
The Wolves held a 19-point lead going into the final quarter, but mental mistakes let the Golden Bears back into the game, Eagle River head coach Jason Brewer said.
The ups and downs experienced in the final game were similar to the Wolves’ season, Brewer said.
“It’s been a very, very trying ride at times, but our seniors kept us in it,” he said.
The Wolves, who finished 2-6 overall and 1-6 in the Cook Inlet Conference, didn’t let bumps and bruises prevent them from getting better throughout the season, Brewer said.
“We improved every week, even with injuries,” he said. “Of all my years coaching, this is the proudest I’ve been of a young group of men to fight through adversity.
“I’m extremely proud of this group,” Brewer said.
While it was nice to notch the first conference win of the season, the Wolves wanted to end the 2012 campaign with a victory for next year’s returners, said senior Jachi Madubuko.
“We’re always playing for the future,” said Madubuko, who led the Wolves with 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Madubuko said Eagle River’s improvement extended beyond raising its skill level.
“We’re trusting each other more,” he said.
A 92-yard punt return by Isaiah Banks put the Wolves up 6-0 after one quarter. Madubuko ripped off a 12-yard score and took a pitch from Peter Kott in for a 2-yard touchdown to extend Eagle River’s lead to 19 late in the first half.
A 95-yard kickoff return by Bartlett’s Dimitri Torres cut that lead to 13 at the half.
Madubuko’s third score came when he broke free for a 71-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
After two Bartlett touchdowns, Corbin Duxbury — who finished with 86 receiving yards — hauled in a 30-yard pass from Alani Collins with one hand to put the Wolves up 31-18 with 5:14 to play.
After Jones scored to cut the deficit to six with 3:33 to go, Eagle River went three-and-out.
The Golden Bears marched 83 yards on the ensuing drive before Jones’ fourth-down spike gave possession back to the Wolves, who ran one play to run out the clock.
The Wolves — who are losing 14 seniors — have set the tone for next season, Madubuko said, and he doesn’t intend on letting graduating keep him from being a part of Eagle River football. Madubuko said he plans on being in the weight room helping next year’s team.
“I’m not gonna let them forget how it feels to fight with your brother,” he said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].