October 1, 2001
Red Wolves pull a rabbit out of their hat
The Cedarcrest Red Wolves looked like crafty magicians as they pulled an improbable victory away from almost certain defeat against the Liberty Patriots last Friday night.
"It's one of those nights you just love being associated with high school football," said head coach Eric Hansen after the game. "We challenged the kids to devote themselves to learning how to play football in the first half next week. I think if we can do that, we're going to startle a few people ... we're a pretty good football team."
OL/DL Cole Birk added after the game, "We're really a second half team, and we're going to be working to improve that this next week."
The Red Wolves did their usual disappearing act in the first half by allowing the Patriots to vault to a surprising 10-0 lead with only 2:17 gone in the first quarter. Three fumbles on their first three possessions left the Red Wolves scratching their heads as to how they could get off to a better start.
The first fumble on the first offensive play of the game led to a quick 40-yard TD by Liberty. After the second fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Cedarcrest held Liberty to a field goal. After the third fumble, they forced the Patriots to go for it on 4th down as the defense led by Vong Ly and Robbie Westerman stuffed the run and got the ball back for the offense. The Cedarcrest defense really stepped up to the plate after that and held Liberty's talented QB Mkristo Bruce to only a pretty 36 yard TD pass with 53
seconds left in the half. The center of the defensive line led by Aaron
O'Neal blocked the PAT to keep the score 16-0 in what would be a crucial
point later in the contest.
Sean McDonald and the offense showed some life right before the half as he
used a quick passing game to move the ball deep into Patriot territory. With
accurate passes to Zack Taylor and Cody Pettersen, McDonald moved the offense
inside the Patriot 40 only to have their best chance fall incomplete inside
the 15 with just seconds left in the half. A sack by Liberty and the
Redwolves relinquished their momentum, but only until the whistle to start
the second half sounded.
The Redwolf defense, aided by some sloppy play by the Patriots who had 25
yards in penalties on their first drive, quickly got momentum and the ball
back for the Redwolves as Zack Taylor intercepted a 3rd and long pass at the
31. From there, the Cedarcrest offensive line took over the ballgame.
Lineman Curtis Coe, Robbie Westerman, Cole Birk, Vong Ly and Coy Chittenden
started a round of "smash mouth football' as O'Neal and Dan Merrick found
huge holes right up the center of the Patriot defense to get big chunks of
yardage on almost every play. O'Neal (19 carries, 169 yards 1 TD) started by
amassing 25 yards, and 2 first downs on his first 2 carries of the half.
Merrick was just as impressive as the Redwolves moved deep into the Patriot
defense. On running plays, all between the tackles, the offense moved down
to first and goal from the 9 as the offense decided it was time to cash in on
being able to run the ball. With the running game being so effective, it set
up a beautiful play action fake to O'Neal as McDonald (6-12-142-1TD-0int)
found Pettersen deep in the endzone wide open for their first score of the
night with 3:37 to play in the 3rd quarter. Behind 16-0, Cedarcrest ran right
up the middle as O'Neal scored the 2 point conversion to make it 16-8.
A quick 3 and out for the Patriots and Cedarcrest had the ball back at their
16 with 1:53 to play in the 3rd quarter. A big 30 yard run by O'Neal moved
the ball over midfield and down to the Patriot 45 as the offense had found
their rhythm and were beginning to feel like they could get this job done.
Westerman, Birk and Josh Rosen opened another big hole for O'Neal and
Cedarcrest ended the 3rd quarter inside the Patriot 23, and driving. A
couple more runs by O'Neal and Tommy Felts set up another 1st and goal
situation. This time out thinking the defense again, McDonald gave the ball
to O'Neal from the 8 and with a great second effort lunge at the goal line,
just nosed the ball over the stripe to count the score. The try for 2 was
not successful this time and with 8:55 to play in the game it was 16-14 with
momentum clearly on the side of the Redwolves.
Liberty moved the ball deep into Redwolf territory and as their drive
stalled, pulled out an amazing 45 yard field goal with 3:15 remaining in the
ball game to take some of the wind out of the Redwolves as the score stood
After the kick return, and expecting Liberty to be looking for the run again,
McDonald crossed up the defense with a quick slant pass to Cody Pettersen who
in 3 steps was behind a defense that was moving up to stop the run. In a
matter of seconds, he took the rock 72 yards for the go ahead score. A great
one play drive that put the Redwolves ahead to stay 20-19 with 2:59 to play.
Now all they had to do was hold the Patriots without a score. It wasn't
easy. A nice kickoff by Matt Mundy went through the endzone for a touchback
and Liberty started at their own 20. QB Mkristo Bruce deftly moved the
Patriots into Redwolf territory, and knowing they had a FG kicker with great
range, it was a dicey game at this point. Great defense by the Redwolves
stalled their drive and on 3rd and 11 from the Redwolf 33 with 45 seconds
left and Bruce launched a deep ball towards the goal line. The biggest play
of the game came as Kyle Eldred went up in front of the receiver and picked
off the pass and came down at the 4 yard line to give the ball, and the game,
to the Redwolves. Excitement never felt so good. Cody Pettersen (4
catches-131 yards - 2 TD) said after the game on the 72 yard go ahead score
"It was 3 steps and break to the middle, then all I saw was green and I ran
as hard as I could". All in all it was an impressive effort by the whole
team. Come cheer on a great team as they look to improve their record to 3-2
at the final Homecoming night at Miller Field against the Newport Knights.