Jake Carney leads the charge as the Chiefs block what would have been the game-tying extra point late in McIntosh’s 28-27 v
Another week, another landmark win for McIntosh Chiefs. The Chiefs went on the road on Friday night and brought back a thrilling 28-27 victory over the Mundy's Mill Tigers to take the program where it's never been before. For the first time in school history, the Chiefs have started a football season 5-0.
The win did not come easily. There was a two touchdown deficit for the Chiefs at the half. There was just an extra point preventing Mundy's Mill from tying the game in the waning moments. No matter the cost, the Chiefs battled until the final whistle. They've earned their 5-0 start with blood, sweat, and tears.
"It's absolutely a special win. I'm very, very proud of this football team," said McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. "The bottom line is they just found a way to win. This group of guys wouldn't quit. They kept fighting."
The win was a perfect example of a team refusing to lose.
"We've talked about fighting for every inch all season, and they fought for every inch and fought to the final second," said Belknap. "It's a sweet victory. It's very rewarding to see this group of young men battle through some adversity."
The Chiefs were staring at a big hole just to start the second half, down 21-7. They weren't shaken at all.
"To be down 14 points at halftime (and come back), as their coach and just a member of this team, I couldn't be more proud of them right now," Belknap said.
Still, all of their hard work could have come undone. After finally battling to take a lead with four minutes left in the game, Mundy's Mill then responded with a quick touchdown drive. All they needed was an extra point to likely send the game to overtime. The Chiefs battled for that extra inch. Like he's done all season, Jake Carney made a major special teams play, giving up his body to block an extra point. When they needed him most, the senior leader was ready.
"Jake is a special young man," beamed Belknap. "There's nobody that outworks that guy. He made the right play at the right time and got us over the top."
McIntosh grinded it out all game long. They got some big defensive plays from a variety of players to hold Mundy's Mill off the scoreboard in the first quarter. Cornerback Jabari Ajao came up with a big tackle to stop a man short of the chains on a third down. Jim O'Neil came up with a sack on another key third down.
The Chief offense got on the board first with their first drive in the second quarter. It didn't take much time. On the first play of the series, quarterback Andrew Johnson kept the ball on a read-option and sprinted up the middle of the field, outracing the Tigers for a 64 yard touchdown. Nick Alvey's extra point put the Chiefs up 7-0 with less than 20 seconds gone in the frame.
Mundy's Mill had a quick strike of their own lined up. On the first play of their next series, running back Rodney Smith raced to the house for an 80 yard touchdown to tie it at 7-7.
The Tigers would take advantage of a McIntosh miscue for their next score. On third and long of the next series, the Chiefs went to the air, but senior wide receiver Trey Walters couldn't handle the ball and it popped in the air where a Tiger intercepted it at midfield. It was a shock for the normally sure handed Walters, but, like the leader that he is, he would redeem himself with the game on the line.
The Chief defense appeared to put the following drive in a world of hurt when Owen Peacock and Josh Espinosa sacked the QB to set up third and 23. Instead, Rodricous Gates cooly completed a 51 yard pass. Rodney Smith scored from 11 yards out on the next play for a 14-7 advantage.
A McIntosh three and out set up Mundy's Mill with a chance to pad their lead before halftime. Each time the Chiefs got them backed up, Gates got the chains moving. Twice he picked up long conversions with his legs. He capped off the drive with a 25 yard touchdown to Eric Tate. The extra point gave Mundy's Mill a 21-7 lead going into the half, but it would prove to be far from comfortable.
The Chiefs could have been disheartened. They could have seen the two touchdown deficit against a good team insurmountable and phoned it in. They could have taken their already school record 4-0 start as good enough. But, no, this team wanted more. This team has said from the beginning that they want to go down as the best football team in McIntosh history. They demanded a victory.
Coming out of the locker rooms, the Chiefs didn't look like the team trailing. They played like they already had the momentum. They played like they were in control of the game. McIntosh went to the ground and started chewing up the Tiger defense little by little. Still, the opening drive looked dead after a third and nine pass fell incomplete deep in Tiger territory. Not anxious to give up the momentum, McIntosh made the gutsy decision to go for it on fourth. Good thing they have a gutsy (and calm and collected) quarterback in Andrew Johnson. Johnson stood in the pocket against the blitz and lofted the ball over a leaping defender, hitting Victor Nguyen who had streaked open up the sideline for a 28 yard touchdown. Alvey's extra point sliced the deficit to 21-14 midway through the third quarter.
The Chief defense did what they had to, bending but not breaking to get the offense the ball back starting on their own 23 to start the next series. The drive was a big one thanks to precision passing and a Mundy's Mill mental error. Johnson hit Trey Walters on a slant route for a nice 15 yard pick up. A flag for a late hit would add on and put the Chiefs well into Mundy's Mill territory. A McIntosh penalty nearly returned the favor, turning a third and short into a third and long. No matter. The Chiefs converted in a spectacular way. Andrew Johnson dropped back and made an amazing pass, somehow laying it just through the outstretched arms of a defender in a window mere inches wide. Duke Kinamon hauled in the clutch catch for a 30 yard touchdown. You just won't see a prettier touchdown. As if that wasn't enough for Duke, he then corralled a bad snap on the extra point and got the hold down for Nick Alvey to drill it and tie the game at 21-21 heading into the final frame.
"If you could see Duke Kinamon practice it wouldn't surprise you a bit at the plays he makes," Belknap said of the Chiefs' jack of all trades. "He's just that kind of kid you can really, really count on. You can trust him to show up and be the same guy everyday."
Mundy's Mill went three and out on their next series. McIntosh returned the favor. The Tigers served up another thanks in part to a big tackle in the backfield by Derek Bertke on third down.
McIntosh got the ball back at their own 47 yard line with the end zone on their mind. Johnson and Nguyen got it started with a 21 yard pass. Next it was Johnson to Sean Ingram for 14. Duke Kinamon would then get robbed of his second spectacular touchdown. On third and 11 from the 16, Johnson found Kinamon who hauled it in and tapped his toes in bounds despite getting pummeled by a defender. Somehow the officials saw it differently and ruled him out of bounds on a bad call. They would at least flag the Tigers for pass interference. Because the play started down close and the flag was in the end zone, it would not be an automatic first down, instead setting up third and four from the eight. Johnson found Kinamon again for six yards to move the chains. Johnson did the rest himself with a four yard touchdown run up the middle. Alvey's extra point gave McIntosh a 28-21 lead with just under four minutes remaining.
Mundy's Mill started deep in their own territory after another booming Alvey kickoff. They chewed up the field very quickly. An 11 yard pass moved the chains first despite a crushing hit from safety Josh Reynolds. Next came a bomb of 39 yards down to the McIntosh 27. The Tigers capped it off with a 14 yard pass from Rodricous Gates to Eric Tate. They had made it a 28-27 game with 2:03 left. There was just that little matter of the extra point standing in their way. The Chiefs blasted through the line, led by Jake Carney, and blocked the kick, a specialty of McIntosh this season. The team exploded in celebration briefly, knowing they still had work to do.
Mundy's Mill just about caused the McIntosh faithful, and there were more in attendance than for the homesteading Tigers, a heart attack. The Tigers appeared to recover the ensuing onside kick. Luckily for the Chiefs, the Tigers touched the ball before it went 10 yards.
McIntosh got the ball at midfield needing to move the chains at least once to ice the game. After a holding call, Victor Nguyen got most of the yardage back with a huge 14 yard run. Trey Walters stepped up next when the team needed him most. On third and eight, Walters slipped past the chains and hauled in a nine yard pass.
The Chiefs had the first down they needed. The rest was just the ticking of the clock. As the horn sounded, the Chiefs were clearly excited for the win, but subdued. Sure, the win was a landmark one for the program, but this team has come to a point where victories are expected, not the exception.
McIntosh is 5-0. They want more. They get a week off before a brutal test against a red hot Whitewater Wildcats squad. If the Chiefs are for real, there's no better time to show it.
"We've got some momentum on our back. Hopefully it can carry us through these next four ball games," said Belknap. "We're right where we want to be. I think the kids are mature enough to handle it and mature enough to know that a tough slate lies ahead."
Quarterback Andrew Johnson again led the way, completing 15 of 25 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns while adding 90 yards rushing and two more scores on 15 carries. Running back Victor Nguyen rushed for 42 yards on seven carries and added two catches for 49 yards and a score. Jake Carney led the defense with ten tackles. Owen Peacock added eight tackles.
The Chiefs are on bye this week before hosting Whitewater on October 11.