With his team clinging to a narrow three-point lead in the waning seconds of its Saturday night matchup with Wasilla, Eagle River head football coach Brad Myers got an eerily familiar feeling.
“It came down to the last play last year when we played Wasilla,” he said. “We threw a touchdown in the end zone to beat them so I had flashbacks of it going the other way.”
On Saturday, just when Eagle River thought it had thwarted Wasilla’s final attempt to score, the Warriors were given new life in the form of an untimed down as a result of an accidental facemask penalty.
But Wolves freshman defensive back Nolan Beaty came up clutch with an interception on a last-ditch effort pass from Wasilla sophomore quarterback Dillon Kester to ice the game and seal a 13-10 Eagle River victory.
“I saw the quarterback roll out and I saw that post (route) across the middle and I knew it was going to be mine as soon as he threw it,” Beaty said. “It was a bad throw, and I went for it.”
With the turnover and victory, Eagle River remains undefeated through two weeks.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Myers said. “That’s our goal. One team at a time.”
His son Dawson Myers helped put up all the points they’d end up needing to win the first half when he connected with Beaty on a post route for a 21-yard touchdown for the first score of the game in the opening quarter. Then he hit sophomore Nolan Farr in stride for an 18-yard strike on fourth-and-5 in the second quarter for the team’s second score.
“It’s his senior year, so it’s his last chance,” Myers said. “There’s a few of them here that have been playing together since they were about 5-years-old, so this is their last go.”
The Wolves had all of the momentum and a double-digit lead deep into the second quarter until Warriors’ quarterback and defensive back Isaiah Smith provided his team a spark and their best field position of the game to that point when he intercepted a pass from Myers and returned it to the red zone area.
Six plays and a few penalties later, Smith lunged across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown as the final second ticked off the clock to make it a one-touchdown game 13-7 at halftime following a successful extra point attempt.
The only points that were scored in the second half of the low-scoring affair were a short field goal from Wasilla’s Toben Michaud late in the third quarter.
Smith was a consistent problem for the Wolves defensively for most of the game with the way he ran the ball hard both between and outside the tackles. He racked up 182 rushing yards to go along with his team’s lone touchdown.
“I think we could’ve done better defending up the middle but overall we did pretty good,” Beaty said.