Anchorage — As game-winning drives go, it was a wild one.
The Dimond football team started its penultimate offensive possession Friday on its own 6-yard line with 7:15 to play in a scoreless football game against Chugiak at Dimond Alumni Field.
The Lynx finished the drive with a 37-yard touchdown run from J.J. Tanuvasa on a fourth-down play to seal a 6-0 victory with 1:51 to play in the Cook Inlet Conference affair.
It was Dimond's first win after opening the season with road losses to Lathrop and Eagle River. At 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the CIC, the Lynx evened their conference record with the Mustangs (2-1, 1-1 CIC), who began the season with wins over West Valley and West.
"We've been underdogs this whole season and last season and its nice to get a win over a 2-0 team," Tanuvasa said. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity to run the ball."
A Chugiak defense that was sturdy all game was wearing down a bit during Dimond's winning drive, Tanuvasa said. Still, he wasn't expecting a touchdown. The Lynx needed him to pick up at least six yards to keep their drive alive on fourth down, but a massive hole opened up on the sweep to the left.
"It was just out of the blue," Tanuvasa said. "I saw green in front of me, so I just took it."
The final drive took 12 plays, eight of which were running plays. A short pass to Tanuvasa went 11 yards to start the drive, followed by five straight runs to claw out to the Dimond 30. Then, Kelley Coleman made a dazzling 31-yard catch between the hash marks on a deep throw from quarterback Jeremiah Maga to move the Lynx into Chugiak territory.
The momentum didn't last long, however, as a holding penalty combined with a personal foul on the next play set Dimond back 25 yards and made it first-and-34. Dimond bounced right back to make up all that yardage and then some on the following play, when Chugiak was assessed with a roughing-the-passer penalty, but still couldn't keep Maga from completing a 16-yard pass to Marquez Buster.
Four plays later, Tanuvasa made his big run.
Chugiak blocked the extra-point attempt that followed the Dimond touchdown, but couldn't muster a comeback. The Mustangs turned the ball over on downs with 58 seconds to play and Dimond ran out the clock.
Dimond, led by a game-high 120 rushing yards from Tanuvasa, outplayed Chugiak on offense. The Lynx gained 206 rushing yards to the Mustangs' 63, but nearly gave the game away on fundamental mistakes.
Twice in the first quarter, Dimond was in the red zone because of big runs from Tanuvasa, but each drive ended with Chugiak intercepting a Maga pass near the goal line. On three occasions, the Lynx had first-down yardage negated by poorly-timed penalties and they fumbled the ball three times, but were fortunate not to lose possession on any of them.
Despite the list of errors, Chugiak's best chance to score came on a 42-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide right with 21 seconds to play in the first half.
"We just couldn't get on track," Chugiak coach Duncan Shackelford said. "Offensively, we got weapons, but we just gotta catch the ball. We gotta run straight ahead, instead of side to side."
Shackelford expects the loss to work as a wake-up call for the Mutangs, who will next week face an undefeated Service team that eclipsed the 40-point barrier in each of its first two games.
"They're not a bad club," Shackelford said. "So, let's see if these guys turn up their energy."
Dimond will seek its second win against Bartlett next week. Bartlett is 0-2 on the season and didn't win a game last season.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Chugiak 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Dimond 0 0 0 6 -- 6
Dimond -- Tanuvasa 37 run, (kick blocked), 1:51
First downs 7 12
Rushes-yards 27-63 37-206
Passing yards 64 70
Return yards 58 21
Passes 5-16-0 6-12-2
Punts 5-27.4 4-16.75
Fumbles-lost 2-0 3-0
Penalties-yards 4-40 8-74
RUSHING -- Chugiak: Mingledorff 9-59; Forbush 9-17; Quigley 2-(-3); Bensel 3-(-4); Stewart 5-(-6). Dimond: Tanuvasa 10-120; Coleman 16-74; Rafa Zavala 3-5; Romi Zavala 2-4; No. 8 2-4; Tufaga 2-2; Chong 1-1; Maga 1-(-4).
PASSING -- Chugiak: Stewart 5-16-0--64. Dimond: Maga 6-12-2--70
RECEIVING -- Chugiak: Quigley 2-37; Lekites 1-20; Mingledorff 1-4; Oldenkamp 1-3. Dimond: Buster 2-18; Rafa Zavala 2-12; Coleman 1-31; Tanuvasa 1-9.