One of the things Arbor View coach Dan Barnson loves about his football team is its never-give-up drive when the odds are stacked against it.
The Aggies’ road win over Cheyenne in a pivotal Northwest League matchup showcased that drive, moving Arbor View to the cusp of clinching its first-ever playoff berth.
No. 6 Arbor View’s defense stopped Cheyenne’s Tyler Spight mere inches from the goal line on a two-point conversion in the fourth overtime to give the Aggies a wild 60-58 victory Friday night.
Despite both offenses combing for 118 points, two plays by the Aggie’s defense made the difference. Arbor View (7-0, 5-0 Northwest) kept Cheyenne’s Kenneth Counts at the Aggie 2-yard line on the final play of the first half to take a 21-8 lead into the locker room.
Coincidentally, the final play also revolved around the Aggie 2.
“I have been coaching 19 years and I have never been in a game like this,” said Barnson after his team soaked him with an ice-cold Gatorade bath. “These kids just continue to battle. It’s kind of like baseball, meaning if they strikeout, they don’t take that feeling into the field. They just keep playing and never give up.”
The Desert Shields (2-3, 1-3 Northwest) didn’t give up either, thanks largely to the efforts of Spight, who had one of the best halves of football in the area this season. After only accumulating 37 yards at halftime, Spight exploded after the break with five rushing touchdowns en route to 217 yards on 28 carries, along with hauling in a TD strike from Cheyenne quarterback Bakari Smith. In addition, Spight added a pair of two-point conversions for a 40-point night.
Despite his efforts, the Desert Shields came up inches short.
“They had a great game plan,” Barnson said. “They gave us everything and by no means did we think this was going to be easy. But credit to our kids, too, because no one gave us a chance in this league and we are close to a playoff spot.”
Cheyenne erased the 13-point halftime deficit with back-to-back touchdowns to open the third quarter. Spight cruised 80 yards into the endzone, and quarterback Bakari Smith added a 14-yard score to Dylan Power.
Logan Yunker’s 24-yard field goal with 6:33 remaining tied the game at 24 points apiece.
Spight then scored his second touchdown of the game on an 18-yard run to give the Desert Shields a six-point lead with 2:04 left in regulation. But the Aggies answered quickly when three plays later Steve Burns scored on a five-yard run. The Desert Shields blocked Yunker’s PAT, and the game went into overtime.
Quarterback Henry Hoffend scored both touchdowns in the first two overtimes for Arbor View while Spight did the same for Cheyenne.
Spight caught a 15-yard pass from Kenneth Counts to open the third overtime, then Counts ran in the two-point conversion. Donnie
Gaskin sent the game into the final extra period with a two-yard run before tacking on the two-point conversion.
Cheyenne outgained Arbor View, 465-313, thanks to a combined 296 rushing yards by Spight and Counts. Christian Rodriguez led the Aggies with 89 yards on 16 carries.
Despite turning over the ball on its first two possessions and adding a net gain of -11 total yards in the third quarter, the Aggies picked themselves off the deck several times late in the game to remain unbeaten in 2010.
“This game was a defensive coordinator’s nightmare,” Barnson said. “We just don’t give up regardless of the situation. I’m proud of the effort by our entire program. We will enjoy this tonight, get up Saturday, and go back to work.”