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Arlington Junior Eagles survive late scare against Bellingham
It was youth football at its finest on Nov. 3 when the Arlington Junior Eagles took on the Bellingham Regulators in the Junior Conference Championship game at Haller Middle School. Facing their stiffest test of the season, the young Eagles rose to the occasion to win 14-6 and secure a place in the Junior Super Bowl.
The Eagles were victorious thanks to the play of their defense and the running of Donovan Evans on offense. Evans scored both touchdowns and had a third disallowed by a holding penalty.
The Regulators also came out fired up and the game was intense right from the beginning. The Eagles were pinned back inside their own 10-yard line on offense after the initial kickoff. Arlington failed to move the ball on their first drive and was forced to punt from deep in their own territory. A good return from Bellingham set the Regulators up at the Eagle 30-yard line. It appeared Arlingtons defense had held them out after the Eagles got a huge hit from Terry Dawn on a third-and-eight play to force a fourth-and-two. But the Regulators had the answer and threw a long corner-route pass into the endzone for the games first score.
Trailing 8-0, and perhaps facing a real test for the first time all year, the Eagles responded with a drive of their own. A short kickoff set them up in Regulator territory near the 47-yard line. Drew Earnhart ran nine yards around the left end on first down, but consecutive runs by Evans and Earnhart on second and third down did not advance the football. On fourth-and-one the Eagle coaching staff elected to go for it and employed a bit of trickery. Evans took a pitch in the backfield running right, he paused five yards behind the line of scrimmage and fired a pass to Bradey Brummel in the secondary. Brummel made one tackler miss before being hauled down at the Regulator 7-yard line. Zachary Kurtz then came in and pounded the middle for a 6-yard gain. On second-and-goal Evans got the call and plowed his way into the endzone for an Eagle touchdown. The Eagles extra point attempt was no good and they still trailed 8-6.
The game stayed that way for the rest of the half, as both defenses did an excellent job stopping the run. Bellingham missed a golden opportunity to expand their lead after catching a long pass on the Arlington 9-yard line. The Regulators were looking at first-and-goal but fumbled a pitch on first down back at the 12-yard line. Dawn broke up a third down pass and Scott Bardell made a tackle on fourth-and-goal to give Arlington the ball back.
The third quarter was more of the same for both teams as they struggled for field position superiority. Neither team could solve the others defense and the stalemate continued. It wasnt until the final play of the third quarter that Evans put the Eagles on top for good. With the ball at the 50-yard line, it came unexpectedly. Evans took a pitch on the right side of the line, waited for his blockers to get out in front of him, and turned on the jets. Two Regulators had a shot to tackle Evans but he stiff-armed the first and juked the second. On the second move Evans faked inside and then burst to the outside, right past the safety who appeared to be glued to the turf. The extra point was good and Arlington took the lead 14-8.
The game was far from over and Bellingham threatened twice in the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Bellingham attempted to run the ball in. Bardell made his second saving tackle of the game to keep the Regulators out of the endzone and Arlington took over on downs.
Arlington had the ball on the 5-yard line, needing only one first down to run out the clock. But the Regulator defense pinned their ears back and went after the Eagles, forcing a fourth-and-six play. Confusion took over on the Arlington sideline as the players wanted to go for it while the coaching staff wanted to punt. The players won the argument and Arlington took a chance. But it proved to be foolhardy as the Regulators stuffed out the play and took over the ball on the Arlington 15-yard line with just over one minute remaining.
Then Terry Dawn came through again for the Eagles, plucking away a game-saving interception to preserve the victory. Quarterback Ben Schwartz and the Eagle offense took a knee and waited for time to expire on the Regulators.
Im exhausted and elated, said head coach Bill Schwartz. Particularly after the ending. We needed to punt. My defensive coach was not pleased with the decision to go for it on fourth down. But our defense rose to the challenge. We walked over teams all season long so the guys were suprised by this game. They are not used to trailing.
In the end, it all worked out for the Eagles and they will look to put a stamp on their undefeated season in the Junior Super Bowl against Burlington Junior Gold.