It was never supposed to be this close! If Alexander Central’s Football team meets expectations and wins a conference title, Friday nights win over North Lincoln won’t be part of the fond memories.
The Cougars slogged their way to a 40-36 win over North Lincoln on Military Appreciation Night at Cougar Stadium. Sometimes, it wasn’t pretty but Alexander Central is 4-0.
North Lincoln opened the scoring with a 29 yard run by Jake Soros with 9:16 left in the first quarter. The score was set up by a Cougar fumble on the second play from scrimmage. The Knights added the two point conversion and the score was 8-0 in favor of the visitors. ACHS tied the game with an 11 play, 68 yard drive capped by AJ Miller’s 8 yard run. The Cougars added the two and the game was tied with 4:35 remaining the opening period. The Cougar defense would stifle the Knights on the next possession but would fumble the punt return setting up North Lincoln with another short field to play on. They took just 3 plays to cover 37 yards and take the lead again 15-8 before the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter began and the Cougars for a while looked like the team their fans came to see. AC reeled off three straight touchdowns , two by sophomore running back Steven Montgomery and another by quarterback Gunnar Anderson and the heavily favored Cougars were up 28-15 with 1:27 left in the half. That last 1:27 was eventful. North Lincoln went 69 yards in 4 plays capped with a 34 yard pass from QB Reed McRorie to Caleb Holley from 34 yards. Holley had found himself all alone in the end zone on a breakdown in coverage by the Cougar secondary. It pulled the visitors tore 28-22. There would be more highlights before halftime. Steven Montgomery returned the ensuing kick 94 yards for a touchdown and the Cougars took a 34-22 lead to the break despite a rash of penalties, fumbles, and at times a lack of intensity.
There was no scoring in the third quarter as the Cougars were foiled on several possessions by more penalties and lack of execution. North Lincoln’s DeeKwon Camp raced 58 yard to the end zone with 7:41 remaining in the game and Knights were within 34-29. ACHS quickly answered with a 5 play, 65 yard drive capped with a bruising 16 yard run through would- be tacklers by Senior Devon Weiss. It looked like, that would be the final score. It wasn’t. North used 14 plays to cover 63 yards and draw within 40-36. The Knights recovered an on sides kick and had a chance to pull a shocker with 3:04 remaining. The Knights moved the ball for a couple first down before the drive fizzled and the Cougars got the win.
Quarterback Gunnar Anderson had a big night mostly on the ground. The Senior picked up 175 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He went 8-13 through the air for 69 yards as well. Steven Montgomery, subbing for the injured Bryson Godfrey tallied 124 yards on 12 carries and 2 touchdowns in addition to the kick-off return for score. For the second week in a row Jordan Brown led the defense with 9 tackles including a quarterback sack.
The Cougars for the third time in 4 games were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties. Coach Butch Carter and his staff know this was a game that their team in many ways were their own worst enemy but the bottom line is the Cougars head into the bye week at 4-0.
Next up in two weeks, the conference season begins at West Caldwell on September 22nd.