Eagle River came within five yards of beating Chugiak for the first time in nine seasons Saturday, but fell short in the final seconds of a 13-7 Cook Inlet Conference football game at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.
Down six points with 1 minute, 29 seconds remaining, Eagle River began the game's final drive on its own 39-yard line.
Four plays into the possession, facing third-and-9 near midfield with 32 seconds remaining, Eagle River's Parker Eiler dropped back and heaved a deep, high pass toward the end zone. Players from both teams jumped for the ball around the 10-yard line and deflected it into the arms of Eagle River's Joshua Oberlander.
The resulting 41-yard gain gave the Wolves a first down at the Chugiak 5. Though Eagle River found time for two more plays, Chugiak's Matt Oldenkamp sealed the win with a sack of Alani Collins as time expired.
Technically, Eagle River (1-5, 0-5 CIC) picked up a win over Chugiak (1-5, 1-4 CIC) last season, when Chugiak's use of an ineligible player forced the Mustangs to forfeit an early-season victory. But the Wolves have never beaten the Mustangs on the field.
Both teams had already been mathematically eliminated from a shot at the playoffs, leaving the Mustangs and Wolves with their geographic rivalry for motivation.
Both were looking for their first conference win. Eagle River's only victory came in a nonconference game last week against West Valley, which beat Chugiak to open the season.
Things went Chugiak's way early when ill-timed, first-half penalties hindered the Eagle River attack. The Mustangs relied heavily on their running game, scoring the game's first touchdown on a drive that featured seven straight runs. Dane Prince capped it when he broke free for a 9-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first quarter.
Chugiak's Chase Wilson tacked on field goals of 31 and 35 yards, the latter coming as time expired in the first half, to give the Mustangs a 13-0 lead at intermission.
Eagle River trimmed the lead to six points when Collins found Colby Duxbury on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Chugiak's Joshua Capers led all rushers with 70 yards on 10 carries and Jachi Madubuko led Eagle River with 67 yards on 11 carries.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Eagle River 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Chugiak 7 6 0 0 -- 13
Chugiak -- Prince 9 run (Wilson kick), :41.5
Chugiak -- Wilson 31 FG, 2:44
Chugiak -- Wilson 35 FG, :00
Eagle River -- Duxbury 21 pass from Collins (Patin kick), :2.9
Eagle River Chugiak
First Downs 6 12
Rushes-yards 22-98 35-176
Passing yards 159 (-2)
Return yards 61 44
Passes 8-18-0 2-8-0
Punts 6-32.5 5-31.2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 11-85 5-40
RUSHING -- Eagle River: Madubuko 11-67; Hall 5-10; Oberlander 4-8; Eiler 1-6; Kott 1-5; Team 1-2. Chugiak: Capers 10-70; Timberlake 12-37; Prince 5-24; Benzel 2-22; Mayhew 5-18; Rohde 1-3.
PASSING -- Eagle River: Eiler 2-4-0--81; Collins 6-13-0--78; Kott 0-1-0-0. Chugiak: Mayhew 2-8-0-(-2).
RECEIVING -- Eagle River: Dunn 2-50; Oberlander 2-47; Duxbury 2-40; Madubuko 1-12; Banks 1-10. Chugiak: Timberlake 1-6; Prince 1-(-8).
By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News