Mustangs slog through sloppy 20-7 win over South
There was plenty of good, bad and ugly to go around Friday night at Chugiak High — just not necessarily in equal proportions.
The good news for the Mustangs was they escaped Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium with a 20-7 nonconfefence football win over South. The bad news was the team could never seem to get out of its own way, committing several costly turnovers and turning what should have been a walkaway win into a nerve-wracker.
“We were just not doing our assignments, just messing up everything,” said Derryk Snell, who ran for a game-high 146 yards and a touchdown for the Mustangs.
And the ugly? That was everywhere else during Chugiak’s home opener: The scoreboard was broke, the rain never stopped, passes were dropped, pom-poms got soaked and the prevailing sentiment afterward seemed to be relief the whole thing was over.
“Sloppy,” was Snell’s assessment of the game, which featured referess keeping time on the field like a soccer match due to a scoreboard malfunction.
Despite the gloomy backdrop, fans who huddled under umbrellas to stick it out were treated to a thrilling finish that sent Chugiak galloping into its Railbelt Conference opener next weekend at West Valley with a full head of steam. And it wasn’t like the Mustangs played terrible; in fact, the state’s No. 4 ranked Division 1 team thoroughly dominated, racking up 373 yards of offense while holding the Wolverines to 38 total yards and just two first downs — one of those by penalty.
But Snell said the Mustangs felt like they could have played much better, and the team plans to correct its mistakes this week in practice.
“We definitely need to remember what this feels like,” he said.
Despite pushing the Cook Inlet Conference Wolverines up and down the field all game, the Mustangs led just 14-7 late in the fourth quarter when Ramal Maad made the play of the game. With South trying to pass from deep in its own territory, Chugiak’s senior defensive back picked off a floating pass from South quarterback Paoa Bentz, then adroitly followed his blockers 38 yards to paydirt to put the game away.
“We were stalling on offense so to be able to help my team, to put ‘em in a position where we’re up and bring some life, bring some fire back into it felt great,” said Maad, who also caught two passes for 43 yards.
Chugiak head coach Roger Spackman said the play didn’t surprise him a bit.
“He’s a real ball hawk,” Spackman said. “He can go up and get it.”
Chugiak appeared on the brink of turning the game into a runaway early, but a bizarre three-play series would prove to be a harbinger of things to come. On the opening drive, the Mustangs galloped crisply downfield on an efficient nine-play, 57-yard march that was capped by an easy 6-yard touchdown scamper by Snell.
Then on the Wolverines’ first play from scrimmage, Snell — a first-team All-State performer on offense and defense last year — stripped South’s Henry Kimmins, scooped the ball up and headed for the end zone. But the Mustangs’ star stumbled as he scooped up his third fumble recovery of the season, falling down just four yards shy of the goal line without being touched.
It would prove a costly stumble.
On the ensuing first-and-goal, the Mustangs committed the costliest of their four turnovers when Anthony Jones fumbled to South cornerback Chance Phonsavang, who picked up the ball and ran 98 yards to the end zone for the Wolverines’ first touchdown of the season.
Snell said Chugiak’s mistakes had less to do with the wet conditions and more to do with a lack of focus.
“It was all mental,” he said.
Spackman agreed, saying his team’s effort was there Friday — just not its attention to detail.
“We’ve just got to be a little bit better mentally,” he said.
After the teams traded punts, Chugiak put together is best drive of the game, going 88 yards on 13 plays to take a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter on Hunter Harr’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Jones. Jones also rushed for 83 yards on 12 carries for the Mustangs, whose seven ball carriers combined for 307 rushing yards and averaged 6.7 yards a carry.
Chugiak’s defense kept the team in front heading into halftime thanks to a superb goal line stand at the end of the second quarter after a blocked punt by South’s Mike Andres gave the Wolverines first-and-goal at the Chugiak 5-yard-line. The Wolverines got as close as the two, but cornerback Kenny Sisson was able to corral Beck Stokes on fourth-and-goal to end the threat.
“I thought our defense was lights-out today,” said Spackman, whose team didn’t allow a play longer than nine yards and gave up just three longer than four yards. “They stood up and saved us on that stand at the end of the first half. That’s just great football.”
The Mustangs missed a chance to make it a two-score game on their first drive of the third quarter, but Thomas Sitz’s line-drive field goal try from 24 yards away doinked off the cossbar, stalling a drive that included a 56-yard Snell scamper.
The missed field goal was one of a series of miscues for the Mustangs, who lost three of their five fumbles, had a punt blocked and failed to score on three trips inside the 10-yard-line.
“We just didn’t finish drives,” Spackman said.
But they did finish the game, and now the Mustangs’ season starts for real as conference play looms. Maad said the team’s 2-0 record means little, and Mustangs know the season truly starts Friday night at 7 p.m. in Fairbanks against the Wolfpack.
“This is pretty much preseason,” Maad said. “Our real games start Friday because that’s when we need to show we’re tops in our conference.”
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]
MUSTANGS 20, WOLVERINES 7
Friday, Aug. 18, 2017
Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium, Chugiak
Chugiak 7 7 0 6 — 20
South 7 0 0 0 — 6
Chu — Derryk Snell 6 run (Thomas Sitz kick)
Sou — Chance Phonsavang 98 fumble return (Noah Winsor kick)
Chu — Anthony Jones 12 pass from Hunter Harr (Sitz kick)
Chu — Ramal Maad 38 interception return (kick missed)
First downs 14 2
Rushes-yards 46-307 25-22
Passing yards 66 16
Comp-att-int 4-12-0 3-12-1
Punts-avg 1-20.0 7-35.9
Fumbles-lost 5-3 3-1
Penalties-yds 5-45 9-57
Return yards 7 98
RUSHING — Chugiak: Derryk Snell 16-146, Anthony Jones 12-83, Hunter Harr 12-26, Austin Harr 1-14, Jayden Vanaman 1-13, Kenny Sisson 1-11, Ramal Maad 2-8, Team 1-6. South: Henry Kimmins 16-33, Dylan Yarger 1-(-1), Weston Warminlee 1-(-2), Paoa Bentz 6-(-3), Beck Stokes 1-(-5).
PASSING — Chugiak: Hunter Harr 5-13-0—66. South: Paoa Bentz 3-12-1—16.
RECEIVING — Chugiak: Ramal Maad 2-43, Anthony Jones 1-12, Ty Carlos 1-8. South: Kimmins 3-16.