Chargers comeback sinks Golden Eagles

Robert Blackford/Editor
Golden Eagle quarterback Spencer Wood is under pressure from Brett Banfield of Orion.

The Mercer County Golden Eagles season came to an end Saturday with a 37-34 loss to the Orion Chargers. The Golden Eagles ended the season with a record of 7-3. Orion improved to 7-3 with the victory and will host the Rockridge Rockets this weekend in the second round of the playoffs.

"I'm proud of them," said Mercer County head coach Nat Zunkel, about his players.

The Golden Eagles appeared to have the game in hand when Curtis Van Winkle scored with 1:37 remaining in the game to put Mercer County up 34-30.

But Orion marched down the field and with 51 seconds remaining in the ball game Orion quarterback Kyle Seys hit Drake Schultz for a 37 yard touchdown pass that turn out to be the game winner.

Mercer County scored first in the contuse on a 21 yard run by Curtis Van Winkle at the 8:08 mark. Kwamena Hammond's extra point gave the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead.

Orion evened the score early in the second quarter as Jacob Edmunds scored on a 21 yard run. Mikey Dierikx's extra point tied the contest at 7-7 with 10:36 remaining in the second period.

Mercer County answered back on a 73 yard drive which culminated in Spencer Wood throwing a 23 yard touchdown pass to Blake Russell. Mercer County led 14-7 with 7:52 remaining in the first half.

At the 4:11 mark Orion scored on a three yard touchdown run by Nick Walker. The extra point failed and Mercer County clung to a 14-13 lead.

The Chargers scored again before the half with 29.5 seconds remaining on a seven yard pass from Seys to Josh Ellison. The Chargers led 20-14 at the half.

The Golden Eagles retook the lead in the opening drive of the second half. Wood completed a 44 yard pass to Russell with 9:32 remaining in the third quarter. Hammond's kick gave Mercer County the 21-20 lead.

Orion answered on a 18 play, 72 yard drive that culminated in a two yard touchdown run by Jacob Edmunds. The extra point gave Orion a 27-21 lead with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter. The drive consisted of 18 straight running plays which ran nearly seven minutes off the clock.

The Chargers were able to extend their lead to nine points with a 31 yard field goal by Dieikx with 7:30 remaining in the contest.

Mercer County answered back quickly as Wood hit Ashton Klingaman and Adam Huffstutler on gains of eight and 22 yards. Wood hit Russell again for the secure from 25 yards out. The Golden Eagles had cut the Orion lead to 30-28.

On the final Golden Eagle scoring drive Mercer appeared to run of downs as Wood's pass fell incomplete but the Chargers were hit with a facemask penalty which gave Mercer County a first down at the Orion 15 yard line. It was the next play that Van Winkle converted for the touchdown which Mercer County hoped would put them ahead for good.

"Just one stop makes the difference," said Zunkel

"I need to have my team better prepared," added Zunkel.