By Robert Blackford/Editor
The Mercer County Golden Eagles upset top seeded Rockridge 26-20 after two overtime sessions Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals.
Each team scored 12 points in regulation play sending the game into overtime.
Each team got four chances to score from the 10 yard line in each overtime session.
Rockridge started out with the ball in overtime and scored on the first play as Darren Southwell ran 10 yards for the touchdown. Southwell's conversion run gave the Rockets a 20-12 lead.
The Golden Eagles answered bay as Spencer Wood through a 10 yard touchdown pass to Curtis Van Winkle. Wood completed the conversion run to tie the score at 20-20.
The Golden Eagles got the ball first in the second overtime. Wood picked up nine yards on the ground on the first play and scored on a quarterback sneak to give Mercer County a 26-20 lead. The conversion run failed and the Golden Eagles led stood at six points.
Rocket Dalton McManus got stopped for no gain on their first play from scrimmage. and lost four yards on a second down fumble. Southwell put the Rockets back into scoring position with a nine yard run to the Golden Eagle five yard line. That's where the Rockets came up short as Southwell's fourth down pass was knocked away by Zeke Snyder.
"They played a good game said Rocket Dalton McManus about the Golden Eagles. We knew we had to score a lot of points to win We had to score more than 20. Their defense played better than our offense."
"It was definitely a crazy game," said Golden Eagle defensive lineman Bobby Lincoln. "I knew could get the win or go home. I knew this could be the last game I ever played."
The game started with Wood hitting A.J. Line with a 33 yard pass on the first series of downs to give the Eagles good field position early but they failed to conniver on a fourth down play.
The Rockets marched down the field taking six minutes off of the clock but falling short. A fourth down pass completion for the Rockets was called back because of holding.
The first quarter ended with no score.
The Eagles dodged a bullet midway through the second quarter as Line picked off a Southwell pass giving the Golden Eagles good field position at the Rockets 22 yard line.
"We were playing in the cover three and I just made a play on the ball," said Line.
The Golden Eagles took the ball to the Rockets 15 yard line before Wood fumbled the ball back to the Rockets.
Page 2 of 2 - The Golden Eagle defense hemmed in the Rockets forcing a punt which Blake Russell returned to the Rockridge 30 yard line.
The Golden Eagles completed a 10 play 30 yard drive with a six yard touchdown pass from Wood to Line with 19.7 seconds left in the half.
"I know we can always win the game. We left it on the field today," said Line.
The Golden Eagles led 6-0 at the half.
In the second half the two teams traded possessions. The big blow came when the Golden Eagles got hit with a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty as Southwell was completing a 17 yard pass to Luke Johnson giving the Rockets a first down a the Golden Eagle 27 yard line. The 15 play drive concluded with a four yard touchdown run by McManus with 1:22 left in the third quarter. The score remain tied at 6-6.
The Rockets went on another scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. The Rockets completed a 12 play 80 yard drive with a nine yard touchdown run by Southwell to give the Rockets a 12-6 advantage with 6:07 left. The big play on the drive came on a fake punt that Johnson took up the middle of the Golden Eagle defense for 29 yards on a fourth down play.
The Golden Eagles weren't finished as the completed a 10 play drive to tie the score at 12-12. The big play on the drive came on a fourth down and seven play from the Rockridge 49 yard line as Wood hit Tyson Nylin for a 35 yard gain to keep the drive alive. Wood then completed a 14 yard touchdown pass to Matt Weeks to tie the score at 12-12 with 3:07 remaining in the game.
"I just beat my guy and made a play," said Nylin. "We've always known we have a chance to get back to the title game.
The Rockets had another chance to score in the final minutes of regulation driving to the Golden Eagle 14 yard line with seconds remaining.
As Rockridge prepared to kick the Golden Eagles called a timeout to ice the kicker. Then on consecutive plays the Golden Eagles were called offsides pushing the ball to the Mercer County four yard line. The potential game-winning field goal was finally kicked and missed at the end of regulation.
The Golden Eagles will host second seeded Farmington Saturday.