By Eric DeVelder
Journal Sports Writer
SLEEPY EYE - Rain sprinkled the Sleepy Eye field throughout the night as the Cedar Mountain/Comfrey beat Sleepy Eye 22-19.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye’s Dylan Klein (23) looks to tackle Cedar Mountain/Comfrey running back Preston Maurer on Friday in Sleepy Eye.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Punctuated by a handful of splash plays, CM/C finished its come-from-behind victory with an interception in the waning moments of the game. Defensive end Riley Berkey made the play to seal the victory with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with the Indians threatening on the 30-yard line.
"I read the quarterback and I was going to go sack him but then I read the screen, backed off and made the play," Berkey said.
Cougars coach Brian Longerbone had a feeling that the screen was coming after it had been used to good effect by the Indians throughout the game.
"They had been running screen, we knew it was a possibility and we told the team to be ready for it.," Longerbone said. "Our defensive end had read it well earlier in the game but had stumbled on the way there. This time he read it and was able to keep his feet and pick off the ball to seal the win for us."
The Indians had dominated the first half of the game, scoring on their first drive with an Austin Fischer touchdown throw. Running back Saul Ibarra had made the catch up the seam for the 9-yard touchdown. The Indians looked ready to score on their second drive after a second Cougars turnover when running back Matt Berkner fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line.
The Indians recovered, but were driven back from the goal line with penalties before turning the ball over on downs.
Regardless of the missed opportunity, the Indians looked to end the half 13-0 after another Fischer touchdown on a quarterback keeper. However, with 1:46 remaining in the half, CM/C quarterback Chandler Rose hit receiver Colton Kunkel in stride down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown to shift momentum.
"We had a matchup on the outside and I communicated with my quarterback to take advantage of it," Kunkel said. "We've been working on it in practice."
Noticing the Indians' tendencies helped Rose recognize what he should do.
"We had seen that there was man-coverage and we thought we'd go take advantage of it," Rose said.
Sleepy Eye managed to retake the lead late in the fourth quarter on another quarterback keeper to make the score 19-16.
The Cougars quickly regained their place up front with a second pass down the sideline to Kunkel on the next drive, this time for a 61-yard touchdown. This time their defense held Sleepy Eye to the end of the game.
The Cougars will hope to avoid the costly mistakes that held them back in the first half. The team turned the ball over on all three of its first quarter drives, twice being intercepted by Sleepy Eye's Kolten Nienhaus and fumbling once in Indian territory.
CM/C also had 18 penalties for 190 yards.
"I lost some confidence in the first half, we had a couple of interceptions, but we just stuck with it. Our line held up and we were able to do the job," Rose said.
The Cougars face off against Martin County West, while Sleepy Eye will play at Sleepy Eye St. Mary's next Friday.