In this episode of "So Who Won, Anyhow?'' we furnish quotes from both sidelines and then let the contestants -- that's you -- guess which football team prospered.
"Our enthusiasm, I loved it,'' said Dimond coach Chris Borst. "We worked our butts off. The kids believed we could do it.''
"We're not staying focused,'' said Service offensive lineman Michael Muller-Stubblefield. "We can't seem to put four quarters together.''
"I'm proud of that effort,'' Borst added. "We flew to the ball. We were hitting people.''
"We're not happy about it,'' offered Service linebacker Hiapo McCandless. "We know we can do better.''
Service 28, Dimond 14 -- not so obviously.
The defending state champion and Cook Inlet Conference-leading Cougars stayed on pace to win the league and gain its top seed to the state playoffs with Friday night's CIC victory at Dimond Alumni Field, but you would hardly know it afterward.
Not even victory could turn their collective frown upside down.
Of course, Service committed five turnovers for the second straight game, and racked nine penalties. Players on the sideline during the game seemed oddly disengaged. And coach Numi Ilalio was not amused -- he ended his postgame meeting with his team by announcing a 9 a.m. practice Saturday.
Still, the Cougars (6-1, 6-0 CIC) on Thursday can clinch the conference with a regular season-ending win over West. Presumably, they will spend the next week going back to the proverbial drawing board.
"We need to put in the work,'' Muller-Stubblefield said. "We have to come out and work hard next week against West. We won't beat them playing like this.''
While Dimond (3-4, 3-3 CIC) still has a shot at clinching the CIC's last playoff spot -- Service, South and West already have clinched berths -- and played nearly as well and as hard as it can, Service's talent carried it on an off-night.
"They make plays when it matters,'' Borst said.
The Cougars scored on their first two drives to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Amu Aukusitino capped a 13-play, 67-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nick Butler on fourth-and-12. The Cougars next went 51 yards in five plays, with lineman-turned-fullback Erich Pili rampaging into the end zone standing up on a 6-yard run.
Dimond cut the lead to 14-7 on Armani Tufaga's 13-yard run in the opening minute of the second quarter, but Service restored a two-touchdown lead at 21-7 on Butler's diving, 23-yard touchdown catch that came after the ball was deflected by Dimond's defense.
Yet Aukusitino, the senior all-state quarterback who only returned to that position last week in a 21-14 win over South after switching to running back and receiver while slightly injured, has been uncharacteristically generous with turnovers of late. He committed five against South, then threw three picks Friday, when the blitzing Lynx brought frequent pressure -- Dimond's Ryan Brady, Payton Lauwers and Stanford Liagao produced interceptions.
Two of those interceptions came when Aukusitino, who throws right-handed, was running to his left and tried to squeeze passes into tight coverage.
Ilalio turned to C.J. Toomer after Aukusitino's third interception, and the junior promptly hit Aukusitino with a 31-yard touchdown pass for a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter. That score was set up by Jasper Hedstrom's interception.
Dimond closed the gap to 28-14 on quarterback Samuel Liaga's 52-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes remaining.
But Toomer's 58-yard punt with 3:11 left pinned the Lynx at their own 2-yard line and they only got as far as the Service 20 before time expired.
Even though the Cougars gained 441 yards total offense, those five turnovers pierced them, as did penalties.
"Lots of mistakes,'' Butler said. "Mental mistakes. Mix-ups on routes. All it is, is discipline. We really have to be more disciplined.''
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Service 14 7 7 0 -- 28
Dimond 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Service -- Butler 24 pass from Aukisitino (Raguindin kick), 4:31.
Service -- Pili 6 run (Raguindin kick), 1:07.
Dimond -- Tufaga 13 run (Sedor kick), 11:04.
Service -- Butler 23 pass from Aukisitino (Raguindin kick), 6:00
Service -- Aukisitino 31 pass from Toomer (Raguindin kick), 1:39.
Dimond -- Samuel Liaga 52 run (Sedor kick), 3:34.
First downs 20 9
Rushes-yards 32-151 42-155
Passing yards 290 57
Return yards 28 62
Passes 17-35-3 5-19-1
Punts 3-45.0 6-32.3
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-60 7-55
RUSHING -- Service: Corder 21-119, Aukusitino 6-31, Pili 1-6, Aliju 1-4, Jones 1-(-2), Toomer 2-(-7), Dimond: Tufaga 10-51, Sa. Liaga 8-44, Vasai 5-24, Chong 5-12, Unga 4-10, Pili 9-8, Barrett 1-6.
PASSING -- Service: Aukusitino 13-22-3--231, Toomer 4-13-0--59. Dimond: Sa. Liago 5-18-1--57, Vasai 0-0-0--0.
RECEIVING -- Service: Brown 5-128, Butler 4-66, Williamson 3-22, Toomer 2-23, Aliju 2-20, Aukusitino 1-31. Dimond: Brady 3-26, Lauwers 1-27, Pili 1-4.Photos: South 75 West 41
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News