Golden Eagles win thriller on opening night

Robert Blackford/Editor
Tanner Matlick throws for 273 yards and a touchdown against the Annawan-Wethersfield Titans Friday night.

The foot of Luke Boucher lifted the Golden Eagles to a 31-28 victory over the Annawan-Wethersfield Titans Friday night. Boucher's field goal with 3.4 seconds remaining on the clock was a game winner.

"That's why we put in all the work over the summer," said Mercer County head coach Nat Zunkel. "That's why we run the hill. This is why we do that."

It was a come-from-behind victory for the Golden Eagles. The Titans took a 28-20 lead with 5:06 remaining in the game and the score seemed to seal the victory.

The Golden Eagles had other ideas though.

Sophomore quarterback Tanner Matlick hit Shaun Peterson on a 52-yard pass early in the next drive. Cameron Muske's one-yard touchdown run with 2:11 remaining cut the Titan lead to 28-26. Muske completed the three-yard run to complete the two point conversion and tie the game.

The Mercer County defense held the Titans to three plays on its next drive and Mercer County got the ball back with 34 seconds left. Matlick completed a pair of passes to Tanner Benson to set up the game winning kick.

Matlick finished the game with 273 yards passing completing 11 of 21 attempts.

The Golden Eagles got off to a good start in the game. On the Golden Eagles first play from scrimmage Austin Skiles scored on an 80-yard run to give Mercer County a 7-0 lead. Skiles ran for 108 yards on eight carries but injured his ankle in the first half and didn’t return in the second half.

The Titans tied the score at 7-7 with 5:28 remaining in the first quarter. Annawan-Wethersfield quarterback Jake DeJaeger hit Weston Heinz on a 63-yard pass for a touchdown.

The Titans scored again on a 53-yard touchdown run by Heinz with 8:04 remaining in the second quarter. The Titans took a 14-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Mercer County cut the Titan lead to 14-13 when Matlick hit Peterson for a 55-yard touchdown with 10:20 remaining in the third quarter. Boucher's extra point attempt was blocked leaving the Golden Eagles down one point.

Mercer County took a 20-14 led with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter on a two yard touchdown run by Michael McClellan. McClellan rushed for 82 yards on 13 carries.

The Titans regained the lead a short time later as Heinz broke another run for 54 yards and the score. The extra point gave the Titans a 21-20 lead.

Shaun Peterson defends a pass against an Annawan-Wethersfield recever Friday.