Wallace’s late score lifts East by Cherokee
For a half Friday night it looked as though Cherokee was going to spoil East’s Homecoming.
After Madison Heidel was crowned queen in pregame ceremonies, the Chiefs came out and dominated the first two periods, allowing East just 12 offensive plays in building a 13-3 lead at intermission.
But the second half was a complete turnaround for the Hurricanes as they regrouped to hold the Chiefs to only 49 yards and rallied for a 23-20 Inter Mountain Conference triumph at Burke-Toney Stadium.
Quarterback Logan Wallace scored on a 3-yard run with 1:13 left in the game to give Coach Dwayne Hatcher’s Eastmen their fourth victory in five games. The hard-luck Chiefs fell to 2-3 with the losses by a combined 8 points. Both teams are now 1-1 in conference action.
The Hurricanes had to come from behind twice as they had taken the lead on Wallace’s 6-yard TD pass to Nick Jefferson early in the final quarter, only to have Tyler Mayes step in front of a pass for an interception and race 63 yards to put Cherokee back in front with 7:22 remaining.
The teams exchanged punts before East started its game-winning drive at its 26 with 4:19 left in the game. Matt Thompson ran for 4 and Chris Logan added 6 before Thompson picked up 10 more. Wallace gained 6 and threw an incomplete pass.
On third-and-4 at the Chiefs’ 48, Wallace faked to Thompson and took off up the middle for 39 yards to the 9 before being knocked out of bounds by Chandler Jones with 2:43 left. Thompson gained 4 before Wallace was tackled for a 2-yard loss. After a pass fell incomplete on third down, Cherokee jumped offsides moving the ball to the 3.
Wallace ran the same play again with a fake to Thompson and cut up the middle for the winning touchdown. Wallace led the ‘Canes with 81 yards on 10 carries and completed 10 of 16 passes for another 110 yards.
Thompson finished with 62 on 14 attempts as East wound up with 170 yards rushing after getting only 21 in the first half. Cherokee had 184 yards at halftime but managed just 49 in the final two periods.
Evan McCracken led the Chiefs with 111 on 22 carries but had just five yards in the second half.
“My hat’s off to Cherokee,” said Hatcher. “They had a great game play and they executed it well. They gave us all we wanted and more. This is a testament to the kind of kids we’ve got here this year.”
Hatcher continued, “We had a lot go wrong in the first half and we had a gutcheck at halftime. Coach (Dewayne) Wells made some adjustments that really helped defensively. Offensively, we finally got our hands on the ball and executed a little bit.
“The touchdown they got in the second half was a pick-six and that was my fault. We’ve had a lot of success with that play and we went to the well one time too many.”
The coach said it was a great all-around effort by the Hurricanes, “It’s great to be 4-1 going to the open week. All the credit in the world goes to the kids. We had some people make big plays but it was just a great team effort.”
Cherokee coach Mike Sivert said, “It was a great effort by both teams. A classic ball game.
We did a good job early in our running game, but East dominated defensively in the second half.
“I thought our defense played well,” he said. “Tyler Mayes made a great play there to give us the lead and then we got the ball back and we had a chance to win the game but we couldn’t get a first down to run the clock out.
“They did a good job of getting pressure on our quarterback and we didn’t do a good job of picking up. Both teams played their hearts out.”
Cherokee took the opening kickoff and ground out 80 yards in 15 plays using up 7:42. The Chiefs converted 3 third downs in the march with big McCracken getting 62 yards on 7 carries in the drive. The points came on a 2-yard TD pass from Ryan Gibson to Jacob Watson. Matt Seals kicked the point after.
On East’s first play it was a double reverse pass that was completed. However, Tanner Trent took the ball away from the receiver and the Chiefs were back in business at their 41. They moved to the East 37 before Jacob Samsel came up with his fourth interception of the season to kill the threat.
But the Hurricanes went three-and-out and Cherokee set sail on another scoring drive, this time going 60 yards in 11 plays. Gibson had a 12-yard run and completed 2 passes for 19 yards to set up McCracken’s 7-yard TD. East’s Bryson Stephens blocked the extra point with 4:41 left in the half.
East finally got untracked, starting at its 33 and driving close enough for a 32-yard field goal by Chris Logan. The big plays in the push were a pair of 17-yard passes to Logan and Jeremy Fultz.
The ‘Canes took the second half kickoff and marched 69 yards in 9 plays. Thompson had 5 runs for 30 yards before Wallace scored on a 20-yard run on the same play as his other TD. Logan’s point after got the Eastmen within 13-10 with 8:38 left in the third.
East threatened again before turning the ball over on downs at the Chiefs’ 25. Cherokee got 3 quick first downs but on fourth-and-5 at the East 48 elected to gamble. Gibson threw over the middle and appeared to have a man open but the ‘Canes’ Stephens batted the ball way.
The Hurricanes took over and covered the 52 yards in 6 plays to take their first lead. Wallace hit passes of 9 and 20 yards to Logan and ran for 10 yards before tossing the TD pass to Jefferson on the same play that was later intercepted. However the Chiefs Tyler Tunnell blocked the point after attempt and East led by only 16-13 with 10:20 left in the game.
Logan kicked off into the endzone, Cherokee went three-and-out and East had great field position at midfield. Three plays later Mayes got hits interception and took off down the sidelines to paydirt. Seals hit the conversion.
East couldn’t go and had to punt it away with 5:57 on the clock. However, the Chiefs took just 1:38 off the clock before kicking it back to set the stage for the winning drive.
After East scored, the Hurricanes kicked off out of bounds but the Chiefs elected to make them rekick instead of taking the ball at the 35. This time Teagan Trent was tackled at the 12 by Bailey Overbay on the return.
Gibson was under heavy pressure on 4 straight incomplete passes and the Hurricanes took over and ran out the clock.
- By Derwin Helton, Tribune Sports Writer