Jabari Ajao and Thomas Streeter team up for a big takedown on a Drew ballcarrier.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
There were plenty of fireworks for the McIntosh Chiefs on Friday night as they set school benchmarks and just about broke the scoreboard in a 48-40 victory over the Drew Titans.
The win runs McIntosh's record to 4-0. It's the first time in school history that the Chiefs have had such a sterling start to a season. The win was a wild one.
"4-0 feels great," said McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. "It did not come easy. It's one of those nights you go to a football game and a track meet breaks out."
The game was also a wild workout for a one Chief in particular. McIntosh's Chief mascot is tasked with doing a push up for every point the team scores after each touchdown. By the end of the night, he was exhausted from all the celebrating.
It was a shootout down to the wire with the teams combining for 88 points and 1,093 yards of total offense (McIntosh - 514, Drew - 579). Drew had an early lead at 6-3, but would trail the rest of the game. Even as the Titans were able to pile up big passes, the game still never felt like it was slipping away from the Chiefs.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys," said Belknap. "What we told them in the locker room is that this is the greatest team game on the planet and every Friday night there's a different hero."
The offense exploded from start to finish. The defense did enough to hold on. The special teams excelled. It was a solid team effort.
"Tonight the offense clicked. The defense hung in there for one more play. The legs of (kicker) Nick Alvey and (punter) Charlie Goedtke were huge huge huge," Belknap said. "Like we always say, the guy that was wearing the green helmet sure made some plays."
The plays started early for the Chiefs. The first play from scrimmage went for thirty yards on a simple hitch route that Trey Walters took upfield for 30 yards. The second play was another big throw from Andrew Johnson, this one to Sean Ingram for 27 yards. The drive would stall, but the big leg of Nick Alvey made it's first impression with a 34 yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Drew answered back quickly. It would take just thirty seconds to find paydirt. On their second play from scrimmage, quarterback Joseph Newman raced for 66 yards. Only a tackle by safety Josh Reynolds saved the score. The Titans would still find the end zone on a 14 yard run by Quarderman Sloan. The extra point would sail wide to make it a 6-3 Drew lead with still nine minutes left in the first quarter.
After trading failed drives, McIntosh would knot up the game late in the first quarter. A ten yard pass from Johnson to Ange got the ball rolling. On third and five from 37 yards out, Johnson hit Ingram on a beautifully executed fade pass. Ingram hauled it in, but was knocked out on the one. The stop would be big for Drew. McIntosh appeared to score on the next play, but would be backed up by a chop block penalty. The Chiefs would have to settle for a 33 yard Nick Alvey field goal to make it 6-6.
The second quarter started off great for McIntosh. On the first play of the frame, Jake Carney pounced on a fumble to set his team up on the Drew 12 yard line. Looking at a third and three, Victor Nguyen slipped out into the flat on a swing pass, a play that would be golden all night for the Chiefs, and snared a low pass then bolted into the end zone for a five yard touchdown. Alvey's extra point gave McIntosh their first lead of the game at 13-6.
Drew switched to backup quarterback Brandon Pearson on their next drive and his blend of a massive arm and big body caused plenty of hassles for the Chiefs. He helped lead an 80 yard scoring drive on Drew's next chance. It would be capped by a five yard touchdown and a two point conversion for a 14-13 lead.
McIntosh's next drive died when Johnson couldn't quite connect with a wide open Duke Kinamon for a sure touchdown. Charlie Goedtke's punt would still set Drew in a big hole as it was aimed perfectly, allowing Karl Close to down it at the two yard line.
A Drew three and out gave the Chiefs the ball right back on the Titan 35. The drive wouldn't get far, but Nick Alvey boomed a 39 yard field goal to put the Chiefs back ahead 16-14.
A big sack by Derek Bertke and Jacob Bolen would kill the next Drew drive and force another three and out. The Chiefs took over on the Titan 43 with 52 seconds left in the first half. It was more than enough time.
Johnson started with a 23 yard hook up with Duke Kinamon. Next was an eight yarder to Trey Walters. Johnson found the end zone the next time on a 12 yard touchdown pass to Sean Ingram. On the two point conversion, Johnson hit Walters on a slant for an easy completion. It took just 22 seconds and four plays to give the Chiefs a 24-14 lead at the half.
Drew started the second half off strong, driving 80 yards for a score. The drive was capped by a questionable 23 yard touchdown from Pearson to receiver Demarco Smith who looked like he came down out of bounds. Jake Carney blocked the extra point to make it a 24-20 game.
McIntosh had a big play in waiting to answer back. Andrew Johnson decided to use his legs the next time out, keeping the ball on a read-option. It was a wise choice. Johnson raced to the house virtually untouched for a 65 yard touchdown and a 31-20 lead.
A three and out set McIntosh up with the ball again at midfield. Johnson started it off with an 11 yard run. He used his arm to convert consecutive third and long situations, one with an 11 yard pass to Sebastian James. The next came on third and nine when Johnson hit Josh Ange wide open up the seam of the defense for a 14 yard touchdown and a 38-20 lead.
It was a big night across the board for the McIntosh receivers.
"Ange made some great catches. Trey Walters has battled injury all year, but he made some huge conversions. Sean Ingram made some timely catches as well as Duke Kinamon," noted Belknap.
Drew wasn't shaken as they fully set into their launch it deep attack. The first pass went for 47 yards. On third and 22, the Titans scored from 30 yards out. An incomplete pass on the two point try made it 38-26.
Andrew Johnson had one more huge play in him to put the game out of reach. Mirroring his last big run, Johnson kept the ball on a read-option and raced for a 66 yard touchdown and a 45-26 lead.
Andrew Johnson has had plenty of awesome performances in his three years as McIntosh's starting quarterback. I don't think you could find a better night than his game against Drew. Of McIntosh's 514 yards, Johnson piled up a ridiculous 462 and five touchdowns. Johnson completed 21 of 35 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. He added 205 yards rushing and two more scores.
"You can't say enough about AJ," beamed Belknap. "What an incredible leader, an incredible competitor, and just an outstanding young man. Sometimes you've just got to jump on his back and let him take you where you're going to go."
After Johnson's burst it would be up to the Chief defense to hold on for dear life. The Titans went right back to the deep ball, chewing up most of the field on their next drive with a 60 yard bomb. A short six yard score and a two pointer made it 45-34.
Their next series was highlighted by a 54 yard pass and finished to with a seven yard score and two pointer to make it 45-40.
McIntosh strung together one more scoring drive to widen the margin. Johnson moved the chains with a 19 yard run on third and short. Another 16 yard Johnson run would get the Chiefs down deep. Nick Alvey's 27 yard field goal would push McIntosh ahead 48-40 with two minutes left.
Drew made a run at it, pushing all the way deep into Chief territory. Their luck ran out when a fourth and one attempt fell incomplete. McIntosh got the ball on their own 22 and went into V formation to seal the win.
The Chiefs celebrated in a modest demeanor despite the monumental win for a program that has never before been 4-0. These Chiefs don't want wins to be the exception. They're trying to make winning a way of life.
McIntosh knows the road doesn't get any easier from here. They're prepared for a battle as they push for not just 5-0, but to make the playoffs.
"Obviously the competition gets better and better each week," Belknap said. "The region we're in is tough as nails. We're just going to take it one game at a time."
That next game is a road trip to play Mundy's Mill.