Chugiak football coach Duncan Shackelford's coaching career ended Saturday afternoon in the same place it began 20 years ago.
The Service Cougars defeated Chugiak 55-34 in a First National Bowl quarterfinal game at Dimond Alumni Field, putting an end to Shackelford's run as a head coach. Shackelford is retiring after 20 seasons split between Chugiak and Dimond.
"This is the place I started, and this is the place I ended," he said. "There's good justification there. If I couldn't end at Chugiak, I guess I'd like to end here, at Dimond."
The win advanced Service (7-2) to a semifinal game against southside rival Dimond (4-5).
The Mustangs (5-4), who defeated the Cougars in the regular season by one point, didn't go down without a fight. Trailing 41-6 at halftime, Chugiak put up 20 points in the third quarter to cut Service's lead to 15 and make it a two-possession game.
"I told them to step up and be men in the second half," Shackelford said. "I challenged them. I told them we don't teach them how to play football the way they did in the first half. So, we made adjustments."
Service quarterback C.J. Toomer said his team had to make adjustments too once the Mustangs stormed back.
"We said we just had to keep our foot on the gas," Toomer said. "We were make dumb, lazy, complacent mistakes, and we knew what we had to fix."
The game was filled with offensive fireworks -- the teams combined for more than 1,000 yards.
Toomer finished with 377 total yards, completing 16 of 27 passes for 320 yards and rushing seven times for 57 yards. He threw three touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for a fourth touchdown.
"I knew I just had to go out and play my game," Toomer said.
Aiding Toomer was fellow senior Eric Jones, who showed his versatility with 18 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns. All but four of Jones' 267 yards came in the first half.
Chugiak defeated Service 27-26 in a regular-season thriller last month, but Service took the drama out of this one early, only to see the Mustangs make things interesting in the second half.
"Offensively, we turned to our run game this time," Service coach Kevin Kern said.
"The kids had a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Not taking away anything from Chugiak's win the first time, but we had a lot of drops and touchdowns called back. The kids used that stuff this time around."
After trading touchdowns early in the game, Toomer rushed for two touchdowns in a 31/2-minute span to give Service a 20-6 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter was all Service -- Toomer connected with Jones on long scoring plays off 80 and 51 yards, and Jones bolted 40 yards for his third touchdown and the big halftime lead.
Chugiak roared back with three straight touchdowns in the third quarter, making it 41-26.
"We came out flat in the second half," Kern said, "but we told the kids there are four quarters of football, and they got their heads back in the game and regained focus."
The Cougars regained command by rushing for two touchdowns in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. The second one came on a two-yard run by Dominik Norman, who last week was promoted to varsity from the C team.
The Cougars racked up 585 yards of total offense, getting 320 yards through the air and 265 yards on the ground. They added 43 return yards.
The Mustangs made it a thousand-yard game by contributing 496 offensive yards. They had 137 passing yards and 359 rushing yards and added another 151 on returns.
Responsible for all 20 Chugiak points was senior Gabe Mingledorff, who scored on a 40-yard run, an 88-yard run and a 28-yard interception return. Mingledorff finished with a game-high 277 rushing yards while adding 84 receiving yards and 55 return yards for 416 all-purpose yards.
"He played like a man possessed today," Shackelford said.
Chugiak 6 0 20 8 -- 34
Service 20 21 0 14 -- 55
Service -- Hansen 3 run (kick fail), 9:51
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 77 pass from Stewart (kick fail), 8:38
Service -- Toomer 7 pass Aliju (kick fail), 5:49
Service -- Toomer 1 run (Hansen run), 2:20
Service -- Jones 80 pass from Toomer (Van Allen kick), 11:41
Service -- Jones 51 pass from Toomer (Van Allen kick), 7:53
Service -- Jones 40 run (Van Allen kick), 3:27
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 40 run (pass fail), 6:44
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 88 run (run fail), 58.7
Chugiak -- Mingledorff 28 interception return (Mingledorff run), 21.8
Service -- Hansen 10 run (Van Allen kick), 9:15
Service -- Norman 2 run (Van Allen kick), 7:20
Chugiak -- Quigley 22 pass from Stewart (Mingledorff run), 23.2
First downs 8 20
Rushes-yards 51-359 42-265
Passing yards 137 320
Return yards 151 43
Passes 5-18-2 16-27-3
Punts 2-29.5 1-43
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 8-60 13-116
RUSHING -- Chugiak: Stewart 7-39, Mingledorff 30-277, Forbush 4-15, Williams 2-(-5), Cormier 1-4, Carnahan 3-8, No. 44 1-21. Service: Toomer 7-57, Jones 18-136, Tatum 1-(-5), Hansen 7-47, Aliju 2-11, Norman 4-13, Pereda 2-4.
PASSING -- Chugiak: Stewart 5-14-1 -- 137; Mingledorff 0-4-1 -- 0. Service: Toomer 16-27-3 -- 320.
RECEIVING -- Chugiak: Mingledorff 2-84, Forbush 1-10, Cormier 2-27, No. 44 1-10, Quigley 1-22. Service: Jones 2-131, Aliju 4-46, Srisaneha 3-37, Bibbs 1-17, Allen 3-40, Fromm 3-49.
By RENEE ESPARZA
Daily News correspondent