Preston Eisnaugle of Jonathan Alder hands the ball off to Jamie Dye during the first quarter against Indian Lake. Dye rushed for 180 yards and one touchdown during the 35-34 overtime win.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
Football can sometimes be an exhausting sport to watch when the game is just a pure blowout. Then there is the other end of the spectrum, where every play is electrifying, charged with energized fan reactions and scrutinized over by every coach on the sidelines.
Every pass or rush of the ball means the difference between winning and losing and every yard is a battle.
The margin of difference between putting a mark in the win or lose column after Friday night’s football game for Jonathan Alder was a single point.
That marker came after Pioneer kicker Ethan Gordin laced a ball through the uprights after an overtime touchdown by Preston Eisnaugle to give Jon Alder a 35-34 triumph over Indian Lake.
The victory couldn’t be celebrated until the Pioneers’ defense took the field to stop the Lakers’ overtime-offensive attempt.
The Lakers found the end zone when Collin Colburn laid out for the ball in the back of the end zone onof a 26-yard pass from Clay Jacobs to put the game at 35-34.
The Lakers had been going for two points on every other touchdown they had scored in regulation, so it was no surprise to Alder head coach Brett Glass when they lined up to go for two again in extra time.
“We had a pretty big debate on the sideline when we scored in overtime whether we wanted to go for two or not, but we decided to go for one,”said Glass. “We knew we were going to get it, because we have confidence in our kicker. We forced them to go for the two-point conversion for the win if they were to score and we were lucky enough to stop it.”
And stop it they did, in the same fashion that every other play of the night was made… with intensity.
The Lakers quarterback dropped back in the pocket and let loose a pass over the middle that was tipped in the air and feel to the ground in complete silence. Once the ball hit grass, Alder players and fans alike erupted in celebration.
“It would have been really easy for us to give up in the end when we gave up that touchdown knowing they are going to go for two,” said Glass. “But our kids battled and stopped the play at the end and went crazy. It was a good win for us.”
The game was a barnburner from the get-go. Indian Lake received the opening kick-off, but Jon Alder’s Bryan Blacka intercepted a Lakers pass as they were pushing into the red zone.
Blacka set the Pioneers up at Indian Lake’s 24-yard line. Jamie Dye and Eisnaugle did the rest to put the first points on the board with Eisnaugle’ scoring run. Gordin missed the point after to make it 6-0.
Indian Lake used its running powerhouse, Connor Dixon, to mash the ball downfield. When the Lakers were four yards out, they went to him again to finish off the drive for six points. A missed PAT put the game at 6-6.
The contest took a defensive shift through the second quarter as each team used hard-nose running to cram it down the other defense’s throat.
Alder used Dye and the Lakers employed Dixon. The Pioneers caught a break when a seam opened for some big yards that set them up 12 yards out from the end zone.
Eisnaugle used his feet to scamper his way in for six points on a quarterback scramble.
Gordin hit the PAT to put the game at 13-6. The Pioneers carried that score into the half.
The Dye/Dixon runathon continued in the second half with Dixon setting up his Lakers at the 32-yard line.
They then switched it up to their other offensive weapon, receiver Collin Coburn, when they fired the ball in his direction for a 32-yard passing touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, keeping Alder’s slight edge at 13-12.
The fourth quarter is where the game really came alive.
Each team pulled out all the stops, going for broke more times than not.
Indian Lake struck first with a 24-yard run by Dixon for six. This time, IL converted the two points to put them up by seven, 20-13.
Alder answered in two short plays when Eisnaugle sailed a pass to Blacka down the sideline to set up the Pioneers at the 25-yard line.
Dye broke free, spun and clawed his way to a touchdown on the next play. Another successful kick tied the game at 20-20.
Indian Lake answered with a 75-yard, eight-play drive capped by a four-yard Dixon run for a touchdown.
Coburn caught a pass for a successful two-point conversion to give the Lakers a 28-20 edge.
Dye would not be down and out as he rumbled down the field to set up the Pioneers nine yards away from the end zone.
Blacka finished the drive with a reception from Eisnaugle for six points.
The Pioneers (3-2) ran the same play during their two-point conversion. Dalton Potts made the catch to tie the game at 28-28 and push it into overtime.
“Our kids battled,” said Glass. “You know we didn’t play our best game, but hats off to Indian Lake. Both teams played incredible hard for 48 plus minutes.
“This was a great high school football game. I’m so happy for our kids to pull it off in the end.”
Jonathan Alder improves to 3-2 on the season.
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