Saturday was a pretty good day for Gabe Mingledorff and the Chugiak defense.
With the sun shining at Anchorage Football Stadium for the first time in days, Mingledorff scored his first career touchdowns on two interception returns and the Mustangs shut out Bartlett 28-0.
Mingledorff called the win Chugiak's best performance and said contributing the picks meant a lot.
"Coach told me to cover the middle, and I did my job and it worked out for me," he said.
Mingledorff's first interception gave Chugiak (2-5, 2-4 CIC) its first points, coming shortly after the Mustangs ended their first possession with a lost fumble. Bartlett (0-7, 0-6) took over deep in its own territory and appeared to be gathering steam with a first down before quarterback Zyrelle Jones fired what appeared to be an incomplete pass.
"I almost dropped it," Mingledorff said. "I caught it with my thigh and I realized I had the ball, so I picked it up and kept running."
Racing 38 yards down an empty sideline, Mingledorff put the Mustangs up 7-0 in the first quarter. Bartlett came back with a strong drive, starting from its own 19-yard line and marching to the Chugiak 19 before turning the ball over on downs.
Chugiak capped its next drive with a 38-yard touchdown pass from David Mayhew to Tyler Rohde to go ahead 14-0. Again, Bartlett answered by marching the ball deep into Chugiak territory, only to turn the ball over on downs.
"Unfortunately for us, it's kinda been same story, different day," Bartlett coach Daniel Esparza said. "We look good for a little bit and then we make some mistakes and it hurts us. We gotta practice like it's the Super Bowl next Saturday against Eagle River, because our kids don't want to go 0-8."
Chugiak pulled away in the third quarter, with Mayhew throwing his second touchdown pass, a 24-yarder to a wide-open Matt Oldenkamp. Mingledorff scored the game's final touchdown on a 91-yard interception return near the end of the period. It was the second time Mingledorff fooled onlookers, this time appearing to step out of bounds near midfield before breaking clear from a pack of pursuers.
"He's one of the most hard-nosed players on our team," said Chugiak coach Duncan Shackelford. "We moved him totally to the defensive side of the ball because of his speed and his ability to hit. He'll hit you as hard or harder than anyone I know."
The win was a big one for Chugiak, because it kept hopes of a playoff berth alive, barely. Several things have to go right for the Mustangs, but a win over East next week, coupled with a Dimond loss to South would create a three-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot from the CIC. Chugiak, East and Dimond would all finish with three conference wins and the fourth seed would come down to a series of tiebreakers, including defensive points allowed.
"We're gonna have to play probably our best football game of the year,'' Shackelford said.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Chugiak 7 7 14 0 -- 28
Bartlett 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 38 interception return (Wilson kick), 5:48.
Chugiak -- Rohde 38 pass from Mayhew (Wilson kick), 10:46.
Chugiak -- Oldenkamp 24 pass from Mayhew (Wilson kick), 7:16.
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 91 interception return (Wilson kick), 1:20.
First downs 14 13
Rushes-yards 38-141 40-114
Passing yards 95 99
Return yards 10 99
Passes 4-4-0 11-23-2
Punts 3-32.33 4-22.5
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-47
RUSHING -- Chugiak: Timberlake 5-35; Capers 7-27; Forbush 5-22; Hefner 5-19; Prince 7-18; Benzel 3-8; Carnahan 2-8; Mayhew 4-4. Bartlett: Heckmann 20-88; Jones 12-17; Parker 5-9; Honore 1-1; Reynolds 1-1; Irving 1-(-2).
PASSING -- Chugiak: Mayhew 4-4-0--95. Bartlett: Jones 12-23-2--99.
RECEIVING -- Chugiak: Rohde 1-38; Oldenkamp 1-24; Jorgenson 1-18; Forbush 1-15. Bartlett: Rowland 4-33; Heckmann 3-32; Irving 3-14; Hoffman 1-11; Reynolds 1-9.