For a game that started with four fumbles, both Juneau-Douglas and North Pole High School showed plenty of of faith in their run game.
The Crimson Bears’ Donavin McCurley and Patriots’ CJ Fontana both amassed over 90-yards rushing and a touchdown on Saturday night.
However, it was Fontana’s Patriots who prevailed on a rainy September night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Field, 22-16.
“We may of led (the entire game), but they were right on our heels,” North Pole head coach Dennis Diviney said. “They have some tremendous football players. It was real hard to defend them tonight. We had to make adjustment after adjustment in order to just stay one step ahead.”
After McCurley erased a fourth down near North Pole’s 30-yard-line late in the game, Max Wheat looked to Koen Schultz on three consecutive throws. After Schultz caught the first pass just out-of-bounds, he was unable to get either of the next two. The Patriots regained the ball with just 39 seconds remaining in the game and up six points.
Jamie Johnson led North Pole in yards with 116 on just three receptions.
Johnson gave the Patriots an early lead with a 71-yard touchdown grab.
Johnson ran a slant from right to left as quarterback Craig Borba dropped back. With a step on his defender, Johnson caught the pass in-stride before taking it an extra 30 yards to the end zone. It was just their second possession and second pass attempt in the game.
“Our (cornerbacks) are very good corners and to get beat like that — it’s something we talked all week, it’s something we worked on all week, it’s something we talked about before the game,” JDHS head coach Kevin Hamrick said.
Five minutes in to the next quarter, the Borba and Johnson again gave the JDHS secondary some problems.
On a fourth and long, Johnson seized a tipped ball a gained a couple extra yards to score his second touchdown of the game.
JDHS ended the first half on a two minute, 53-yard touchdown drive. On a second and goal, senior John Elisoff found his way into the end zone and cut the score to 14-7.
McCurley, who averaged over five yards per carry in the game, seemingly fooled all 11 Patriots defenders on a 29-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
JDHS would miss the extra point and trail 14-13.
The Patriots would add to their lead later in the quarter. JDHS’ punt attempt was blocked and the ball rolled all the way back to the Crimson Bears’ 5-yard-line before someone could corral it.
It would take Fontana just two tries to punch the ball in to the end zone from there.
JDHS’ Dawson Hickok scored the last points of the game on a 30-yard field goal with 4:10 to play.
JDHS plays at home for their final regular season game. The Crimson Bears will battle Thunder Mountain at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30.
It’s a must-win game for JDHS in order to remain in playoff contention. Should North Pole defeat Ketchikan on Wednesday, the final playoff spot will be determined based on the margin wins and losses of the two teams.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated North Pole’s CJ Fontana accumulated the most yards for North Pole. Jamie Johnson led North Pole with 116 yards. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.