In a game with no small mistakes from either side, it was Stanberry which was able to overcome its errors and take advantage of its opponent’s, as the Bulldogs beat East Atchison, 26-20, in overtime Friday.
The win gives Stanberry its first district championship since 2016.
Stanberry (10-1) coach Shane Hilton said he will take an ugly win to advance to the state semifinals any day.
“It was one of those that gets your nerves, but it was a hard fought games across the board by both sides,” Hilton said. “Turnovers weren’t great, it wasn’t one of the cleanest games to be sure. But we did enough in the end to get the job done. We’ll take that every time.”
East Atchison (7-3) was handicapped by mistakes at inopportune times. After senior Ian Hedlund scored on a catch and run in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead, a series of bad snaps prevented the Wolves from moving the ball on offense.
A blocked punt late in the second quarter set up Bulldog freshman Tucker Schieber’s 10-yard score, which gave them an 8-6 advantage. But the Wolves used a series of Bulldog penalties to drive down the field quickly and take a 12-8 lead into half on a seven-yard run by Merriweather.
“We made way too many mistakes in all facets. We got outplayed at times and outcoached, but it’s a tough pill to swallow,” East Atchison coach Aaron Behrens said. “We were up at halftime and it could have easily been by more.”
The Bulldogs stuffed the Wolves on 4th and 1 on the first drive of the second half and capitalized with a 46-yard TD by Schieber on an option dive to regain the lead.
With the score tied at 20 late in the fourth quarter, East Atchison was looking for retribution. The Wolves got some help along the way from a pair of personal fouls by Stanberry, and with just 21 seconds left on the clock, they lined up for 3rd and goal from the Bulldogs one yard line.
Then, the unthinkable happened 一 a false start. Behrens placed the blame on himself.
“I kind of made a boneheaded call and decided to go on two for some reason and we jumped,” he said. “Then the incomplete pass in the endzone to end regulation. It was poor timing on my part for a snap count change.”
Another false start hindered the Wolves on their first drive of OT, and they failed to score. Even with its starting quarterback lost to injury, Stanberry only needed to ride Schieber in order to drive in for the game-winning score, giving it to him on the toss for a four yard walk-off score that kept their season alive.
“He runs hard, he’s not a real big guy, but he’s got that willingness to keep sticking it in there,” Hilton said. “It’s pretty special.”
The Bulldogs will host North Andrew in the state semifinals next Friday at 7 p.m., giving them an opportunity for vengeance after their 36-6 loss to the Cardinals ruined their chance at a perfect season back in early October.