How would the Juneau-Douglas High School football team respond?
That was the question after the Crimson Bears saw the Chugiak Mustangs score two touchdowns to tie the score late in Friday night's football game at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Juneau needed a victory to keep its playoff hopes alive, and it appeared the Crimson Bears had lost their momentum.
But the Crimson Bears weren't finished. Juneau got the ball back with 2 minutes, 39 seconds to play, and sophomore quarterback Chris Hinkley efficiently moved his team on a seven-play, 63-yard drive that gave Juneau a 29-22 victory.
With 58 seconds left, Hinkley found junior wideout Angelo Katasse in the right corner of the end zone for the game-winning 14-yard touchdown. The Crimson Bears then stopped the last drive by Chugiak's explosive offense, with Katasse knocking down a fourth-down pass with 25 seconds left to preserve the victory.
"It was Angelo with the answer," Juneau offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos said.
"It's such an amazing feeling," Katasse said. "We weren't going to let our seniors go out with a loss on Senior Night. We weren't going to let anything hold us back. It may look like we're done, but we pick each other up and won't let anyone get down."
Katasse said he and Hinkley work on the game-winning play all the time, a simple fade route to the corner of the end zone. His touchdown came after a third-down, 17-yard pass from Hinkley to senior Josh Lehauli, followed by runs of 17 yards and 3 yards by senior Brian Felix, who finished with 186 yards and three touchdowns.
"We've got two corner routes that Hinkley and I like to run, and that's our favorite play," Katasse said. And on defense, "I knew it was fourth down and my first instinct was just to knock the ball down. Don't even try to intercept it."
"The great thing was we've been down before and there was time left to go after them," Felix said. "All of our games have been fun, and that was a good team."
Chugiak's offense was led by senior quarterback Cory Wardrope, who has been getting some college looks and is one of the most efficient passers in the state.
Wardrope completed 19 of 32 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but Juneau had at least one and sometimes as many as four defensive linemen in his face most of the game, with seniors Jake Ritter, Jesse Vaughn, Mychal Hutcherson and Alika Bradley doing the chasing.
"He's the best quarterback in Alaska," Hutcherson said. "We were getting back there and putting pressure on him."
Meanwhile, the Juneau defensive backs forced Wardrope to check down to his third or fourth receivers on several plays.
"Today was a great matchup on the line, and our DBs did a great job," senior lineman Ryon Pratt said.
"Our defense really played big in clutch situations," senior defensive back-wide receiver Naash Richey said. "It was an emotional game, and this was the best way to end our careers at this field."
Things didn't open so well for Juneau (4-3 overall, 3-2 Cook Inlet Football Conference), even though the Crimson Bears' defense held the Mustangs (5-2, 4-1) to three plays and out on their first three drives. The first time Juneau touched the ball, senior C.J. Keys had a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown called back by a clipping penalty.
"We knew we'd make some mistakes, and when we make mistakes we have to get over them," Keys said. "This is sweet. This is our rival."
The Crimson Bears settled down and Felix scored on a 12-yard sweep to the right on the first play of the second quarter to give Juneau a 6-0 lead. Ritter recovered a fumble on Chugiak's next drive, and Felix scored eight plays later on a 2-yard run up the middle to make it 12-0.
The Mustangs' offense finally got moving late in the second quarter. Chugiak closed the gap to five points late in the period when running back Warren Ballard scored on a 7-yard run off an option play.
In the third quarter, Juneau scored four plays after the opening kickoff as Felix ran for a 4-yard touchdown. The Crimson Bears made it 22-7 later in the period when junior kicker Dylan Ashe drilled a 40-yard field goal.
After Juneau took a 15-point lead, Chugiak went on a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended early in the fourth quarter when Lehauli intercepted a pass in the end zone. That was Wardrope's first interception of the season.
Chugiak closed the gap to 22-14 with 4:41 left in the game when Wardrope found Matt Devlin for a 5-yard touchdown reception. Then, after a Juneau fumbled a handoff, the Mustangs needed just six plays before Wardrope found Alex Hagge for a 21-yard touchdown. Devlin set up the score two plays earlier when he made an incredible leaping fourth-down catch with defenders Lehauli, Keys and Felix hanging all over him.
That brought the score to 22-20, and Chugiak needed a two-point conversion to tie the score. Ritter stopped Ballard at the 1-yard line, but was called for an inadvertant face mask penalty and the Mustangs got another chance. This time Chugiak fullback Andrew King made the conversion run to knot the game.
"It was a bummer it ended up a face mask, because I stuffed that run," Ritter said. "(Chugiak coach Duncan) Shackelford has a great offensive mind, and we made him open his playbook and go deep into it."
The Crimson Bears will close out the regular season this Saturday when they play the Bartlett Golden Bears at noon at Anchorage Football Stadium. A victory on Saturday will give Juneau a spot in the state playoffs, but a loss means elimination.
Crimson Bears JV 55, Kings 0
Four Juneau junior varsity players ran for at least 80 yards as the Crimson Bears knocked off the Ketchikan varsity on Friday night.
Jamaal Bailey led Juneau (5-2) with 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Derik Antrim ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries, while quarterback Joe Kohan scrambled for 88 yards and one touchdown on four carries and Brian Maller ran for 83 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
The Crimson Bears ran for 462 total yards in the game as they avenged a season-opening 20-0 loss to the Kings (2-3) in Ketchikan. Juneau was missing several players to baseball and soccer tournaments in that first game, which was the first victory in Ketchikan's six-year history.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 29, MUSTANGS 22
Friday's varsity football boxscore from Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
CHUGIAK 0 7 0 15 - 22
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 0 12 10 7 - 29
Juneau-Douglas - Felix 12 run (kick failed), 11:55.
Juneau-Douglas - Felix 2 run (pass failed), 6:30.
Chugiak - Ballard 7 run (Schierholt kick), 2:52.
Juneau-Douglas - Felix 4 run (Ashe kick), 10:25.
Juneau-Douglas - FG, Ashe 40, 5:19.
Chugiak - Devlin 5 pass from Wardrope (Schierholt kick), 4:41.
Chugiak - Hagge 21 pass from Wardrope (King run), 2:39.
Juneau-Douglas - Katasse 14 pass from Hinkley (Ashe kick), 0:58.
First downs 14 16
Rushes-yards 29-94 50-263
Passing yards 243 171
Return yards 40 55
Comp-att-int 19-32-1 8-13-0
Punts-ave 3-34.0 1-13.0
Sacked-yards lost 2-10 0-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-2
Penalties-yards 15-105 10-88
RUSHING - Chugiak: Ballard 10-53, Wardrope 15-35, King 3-5, Eichenlaub 1-1. Juneau-Douglas: Felix 34-186, Keys 10-62, Lehauli 2-22, Hinkley 4-(-7).
PASSING - Chugiak: Wardrope 19-32-1 - 243. Juneau-Douglas: Hinkley 8-13-0 - 171.
RECEIVING - Chugiak: Ballard 5-92, Devlin 6-68, Kissee 3-34, Myers 3-28, Hagge 1-21. Juneau-Douglas: Fagerstrom 2-62, Katasse 2-47, Keys 2-40, Lehauli 2-22.
MISSED FIELD GOALS - Chugiak: None. Juneau-Douglas: Ashe, 27 (WR).
CRIMSON BEARS JV 55, KINGS 0
Friday's scoring summary from Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
KETCHIKAN 0 0 0 0 - 0
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS JV 7 14 21 13 - 55
Juneau JV - Bailey 2 run (Kohan kick), 9:08.
Juneau JV - Antrim 4 run (Kohan kick), 9:56.
Juneau JV - Kohan 33 run (Kohan kick), 7:49.
Juneau JV - Antrim 32 run (Kohan kick), 8:34.
Juneau JV - Antrim 4 run (Kohan kick), 5:02.
Juneau JV - Bailey 15 run (Kohan kick), 1:38.
Juneau JV - Bailey 49 run (kick failed), 11:07.
Juneau JV - Maller 6 run (Kohan kick), 6:43.