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South tips West in a thriller

Doyle Woody

Fans of the South High football team are hereby advised to consult a cardiologist.

After all, through four games the Wolverines have probably caused their supporters to suffer bouts of arrhythmia, shortness of breath and dizziness, with the most recent episodes coming Saturday night.

Third-ranked South twice rebounded from nine-point deficits at Anchorage Football Stadium to rack a 37-33 Cook Inlet Conference victory over West and continue its string of heart-stopping games.

The Wolverines's four games this season have been decided by a grand total of nine points, although, granted, Saturday's four-point win rated as marginally comfortable by their standards.

After falling 21-18 to Chugiak in their season opener, the Wolverines beat Bartlett 36-35 and East 7-6. All three of their victories have been in come-from-behind fashion.

As the Wolverines routinely say, they like to keep things interesting.

Saturday, when Michael Wilson spurred them with 15 carries for 134 yards and four touchdowns, three of them in the second half, the Wolverines (3-1 overall and CIC) couldn't exhale until a fourth-down pass by West's Conor Feckley sailed incomplete with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left. One first down later, South quarterback Zach Lujan took a knee to run out the clock.

"We talk about it continuously -- character, character, character,'' South coach John Lewis told his team as it huddled on the field afterward.

The Wolverines pounded West for 364 rushing yards and 497 yards total offense, getting 79 snaps from scrimmage. Lujan, who played banged up, complemented a punishing running game by completing 10 of 17 passes for 133 yards.

Still, it was South's offensive line and its stable of backs -- eight different running backs logged carries -- that wore down West (2-2, 1-2 CIC).

"We just got beat,'' said West coach Tim Davis. "They were pushing us around in the fourth quarter, really the whole second half. They saw that. They went right to the ground and got us.''

While West struggled defensively, Feckley and his crew of receivers helped keep the Eagles in the game and twice spurred the Eagles to nine-point advantages in the third quarter. Feckley completed 23 of 41 passes for three touchdowns -- he was picked off once, by Dante Williams -- and scored on a 1-yard sneak.

That's not the totality of the junior's multi-tasking, though -- Feckley also politely asked to use this forum to invite Rebecca Rogers to West's homecoming dance this week, so let him know, Rebecca.

Feckley connected with Marcel Dion, who latched onto nine receptions for 136 yards, for touchdown passes covering 14 yards and 8 yards in the first half, and connected with Jacob Lawrence on a medium-range pass in the third quarter that Lawrence turned into a 69-yard score that earned West a 33-24 lead.

But Wilson was just too much to handle on a night when both teams were heavily penalized -- West committed 17 infractions for 167 yards of back-stepping and South was flagged 16 times for 139 yards.

Wilson scored on a 39-yard run just 1:22 after Lawrence's thunderbolt to cut West's lead to 33-30. And he scored on a 5-yard run with 4:22 left that, combined with Griffin Toomey's extra point delivered a 37-33 lead the South defense made stand.

South twice in the third quarter responded to West touchdowns in a heartbeat.

After Feckley's sneak gave West a 26-17 lead midway through the third quarter, Wilson scored on a 4-yard run just 62 seconds later. And after Feckley and Lawrence hooked up for their touchdown, Wilson ripped off his 39-yard strike just 82 seconds later.

"We just pull ourselves together and realize we're a team, and play like a team,'' Wilson said.

That resilience, he said, trickles down from his coach.

"He really sets the tone,'' Wilson said. "We believe in him and he believes in us, and we do it for the old man.''

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

West 7 12 14 0 -- 33

South 9 8 13 7 -- 37

First Quarter

South -- Safety, West intentionally grounded ball from end zone, 9:48.

South -- Sauder 5 run (Toomey kick), 7:05.

West -- Dion 14 pass from Feckley (Troxel kick), :44.

Second Quarter

West -- Dion 8 pass from Feckely (kick blocked), 7:04.

South -- Wilson 15 run (Krolick run), 5:02.

West -- Williams 4 run (run failed), 1:17.

Third Quarter

West -- Feckley 1 run (run failed), 6:25.

South -- Wilson 4 run (Toomey kick), 5:23.

West -- Lawrence 69 pass from Feckley (Troxel kick), 4:50.

South -- Wilson 39 run (kick failed), 3:28.

Fourth Quarter

South-- Wilson 5 run (Toomey kick), 4:22.

West South

First downs 19 26

Rushes-yards 22-104 62-364

Passing yards 351 133

Return yards 121 177

Passes 23-41-1 10-17-0

Punts 4-31.5 3-38.3

Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2

Penalties-yards 17-167 16-139

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING -- West: Sailele 15-67, Tulimasealii 1-33, Williams 2-5, Feckley 4-(-1). South: Wilson 15-134, Williams 7-58, Steele 9-51, Erickson 9-41, Hopp 8-36, Toomey 7-31, Sauder 5-11, Taha 1-3, Lujan 1-(-1).

PASSING -- West: Feckley 23-41-1--351. South: Lujan 10-17-0--133.

RECEIVING -- West: Dion 9-136, Brown 6-98, Lawrence 4-85, Vandervort 2-15, Sailele 1-10, Rut 1-4. South: Krolick 4-58, Wilson 3-17, Toomey 1-22, Williams 1-18, Erickson 1-18.


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com