By T. Scott Boatright
Cedar Creek went down in an “Apache ambush” and loss of emotional control Friday night as Glenbrook held off the Cougars for a 22-18 victory at Cougar Stadium.
Glenbrook recovered a pair of onsides kicks in the second half, one on the opening kickoff after intermission that set up the Apaches up in solid field position that helped them score the game-winning touchdown in an attack reminiscent of the Saint onsides kick play called “ambush” that led the NFL’s New Orleans team to a win over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl.
“They got us the first time, but we’ve got to get the second one,” said Cedar Creek head coach William Parkerson of Glenbrook’s two recovered onsides kicks. “You can’t let that happen two times. That was huge. That put us a long time not being on the ball. We just have to be better.”
The Apaches stormed out to a quick 16-0 lead, taking an 8-0 lead on the opening drive when running back Chase Sentell disappeared into a pile of players at the line of scrimmage but suddenly burst out of the pack and angled left for the 15-yard scoring scamper followed by a two-point conversion pass.
Cedar Creek fumbled the ball away on its first play from scrimmage and the Apaches wasted no time taking advantage, driving 43 yards with quarterback Easton Sanders tossing a 15-yard touchdown pass followed by another two-point conversion pass that put Glenbrook up by 16 points with 5:40 left in the opening stanza.
But the Cougars countered with a 14-play, 63-yard scoring drive of their own with quarterback Ladd Thompson pouncing into paydirt from one yard out. The Cougars’ two-point conversion pass attempt was picked off, leaving Cedar Creek trailing 16-6 with 11:05 remaining in the first half.
On the ensuing drive, it momentarily looked like Glenbrook would counter with a 56-yard untouched touchdown run by Sentell on a fourth-and-one, but the play was called back by a holding penalty, forcing the Apaches to punt.
Cedar Creek answered with its second scoring drive, with Thompson’s six-yard scoring scamper at the 4:26 mark of the second quarter cutting Glenbrook’s lead to 16-12 after the Cougars failed on a two-point conversion run.
“The kids laid it on the line, we just made one too many mistakes and let emotions get the best of us,” Parkerson said. “We’ve got nobody but ourselves to blame. They won the ballgame. We just didn’t make enough plays. We just have to make one more play. Tonight we didn’t.”
Holding that 16-12 advantage to start the second half, Glenbrook kicked off and recovered the onsides kick but failed to take advantage and turned the ball over to Cedar Creek after four plays.
Still pinned down on their side of the field, the Cougars were held to a 3-and-out situation and punted the ball away, giving the ball back to the Apaches at their own 40-yard line.
Five plays later Sanders hit receiver Landry Powell on a 42-yard scoring strike to push Glenbrook’s lead to 22-12 with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Then the Apaches added insult to injury by recovering a second straight onsides kick.
The Cougars held strong again and forced Glenbrook to punt, but their emotional fuse was lit and would end up costing Cedar Creek late in the contest.
Cedar Creek sliced the Glenbrook lead to 22-18 with 11:08 left on the clock as Thompson hit James Meyers on a 28-yard touchdown pass before failing to convert on the two-point conversion run attempt.
The Cougars recovered a pair of fumbles on Glenbrook’s next two drives, with the second giving Cedar Creek a first-and-10 at the Glenbrook 20-yard line with 5:50 left on the clock.
But then the emotional pressure-cooker of a contest got to the Cougars.
Thompson ran for six yards on first down and then scampered for another six on second down, but that run was called back on a holding penalty.
Two flags on unsportsmanlike conduct followed over the next 20 seconds, pushing the Cougars back to a second-and-48 situation on their side of the field and forcing them to punt two plays later.
Glenbrook took over at its own 20 with 3:33 remaining, and a pair of first downs allowed the Apaches to run out the clock and escape with the hard-fought win.
That didn’t take away from an almost superhuman effort by Cougars linebacker Lawson Lillo, who totaled a remarkable 26 tackles on the night.
“He had a heckuva of a game,” Parkerson said of Lillo’s performance. “He flies around on defense and just makes plays. He gave it his all tonight.”
Thompson led the Cougars with 114 rushing yards and his two scores on 21 carries while Gray Worthey added 60 yards on eight carries for Cedar Creek. Thompson also connected on 5-of-6 pass attempts for 75 yards and the touchdown to Meyers.
Adding to his extraordinary game, Lillo hauled in two of Thompson’s passes for 31 receiving yards while adding five yards on two runs.
The Cougars now turn their attention toward the Vidalia Vikings, who will play at Cedar Creek next Friday after defeating Sicily Island 16-0 Friday night.
“Now we’ve just got to emotionally get back up and get ready to go on Monday and start getting ready for a good Vidalia team,” Parkerson said.