The Bartlett Golden Bears will head into the postseason on a high note and with a winning record after capping their regular season with commanding 46-21 Cook Inlet Conference football win over the Chugiak Mustangs.
“It’s always good to go in the playoffs after a victory and after success, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going,” said Bartlett coach Chance Matsuoka, whose team improved to 3-2.
Bartlett’s victory spoiled homecoming night for the Mustangs, who lost despite their best offensive performance of the season.
Chugiak (0-5) couldn’t keep pace with the Golden Bears and their potent rushing attack led by dynamic junior quarterback Reason Timberlake, who accounted for half of Bartlett’s six touchdowns and would’ve been responsible for a fourth if his 80-yard scoring run in the first quarter hadn’t been negated by a penalty.
“He’s a really good athlete, he’s a good leader on the field, he keeps his head cool,” said Matsuoka. “We just got to crisp up some things, some decision-making like any other young kid, but he’s got a good future ahead of him and he’s going to lead this team to some more wins hopefully.”
If it hadn’t been for penalties, Bartlett likely would’ve piled on even more points. While the their running game was able to pick up chunks of yardage seemingly at will, the Golden Bears often found themselves moving in the wrong direction.
“Bad things happen and we just have to keep looking to the next play until things start going right for us,” said Matsuoka.
Bartlett owned the line of scrimmage and was able to pound the ball down the throats of the Mustangs' undersized defense.
Timberlake picked up 53 yards on six carries. He did his most damage running to the right and scored a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter by sprinting to the front right pylon.
While Bartlett’s ground game dominated, the first points of the games came on a beautifully lofted 33-yard pass from Timberlake to wide receiver Ajay Gordon on the first play from scrimmage. The Golden Bears started with good field position thanks to Gordon’s long return of the opening kickoff.
Timberlake’s second passing touchdown came on a 2-yard pass early in the second quarter when he rolled to his right and connected with running back Michael Elias, who got one foot inbounds before his momentum carried him out.
The Mustangs entered the game having scored three points in their previous four games. They scored their first touchdown of the season after a short punt set them up inside Bartlett’s 20-yard line.
Running back Colton Johnson carried the ball three straight times and bounced his third carry out to the right for a 5-yard touchdown.
The Mustangs' other scores came on touchdown passes from quarterback Harvey Pullen to senior receivers Logan Mathieu and Josh Rolston.
Pullen’s first touchdown toss came in the second quarter with a perfectly placed pass to Mathieu, who made a nice leaping grab. The second came in the final minutes of the game when he connected with Rolston in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown strike.
Rolston is also Chugiak’s starting kicker, punter and defensive back, and he scored the team’s first points of the season in a 51-3 loss to undefeated East last week. His 56-yard field goal set a new state record and got him national recognition in the process.
After a video of the record-breaking boot went viral, Rolston began hearing from Division I colleges.
“I’m getting contacted by Valparaiso, Central Michigan, and I could go the University of Tennessee as a preferred walk-on,” said Rolston, who came close but missed twice from 50-plus yards Friday. “I want to continue playing football for another four years because I love kicking, I love football. It’s something I love doing, and it’s an art.”
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