Victor Nguyen was unbelievable against Drew with seven total touchdowns.
(Staff Photos by Christopher D
A season filled with thrills for the McIntosh Chiefs rolled on with a game loaded with enough excitement to last years. The Chiefs romped over the Drew Titans in a 77-56 shootout. In a season of wild wins, it didn't get any crazier than this one. Beyond the thrill of victory, McIntosh earned the chance to go where they haven't been in a long time and set a few more records along the way.
First and foremost, the Chiefs had to beat Drew to ensure that their season didn't end. The team's 6-0 start got them rolling. After two straight losses, McIntosh rebounded last week with a big win over Northgate. It was enough to put them in one of the pivotal region play-in games where the winner heads off to the playoffs. Standing in the way were the Titans from Drew. McIntosh already beat them once this year, the first time by 48-40. It was a shootout, but it's not likely anyone could have foreseen the magnitude of the offensive explosion in this one. Depending on who you asked, a track meet broke out or maybe it was a basketball game based on the score. One of the game officials said he'd never seen a game with so much scoring in all of his years working football games. The two teams combined for 133 points and over 1,100 total yards of offense.
"I guess the old saying is you went to a football game and a track meet broke out. That's what we felt like we were a part of," said McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. "We've got to take our hats off to our offense. It was an unbelievable performance out of the entire offense."
"Oh my goodness. (Assistant coach Brad Campbell) told us 77 points is the most he's ever put up and he's been doing it for 30 plus years. Whenever you can break a record like that, it's a pretty amazing night," said quarterback Andrew Johnson.
Along with tallying a school record eighth victory, another record fell. Running back Victor Nguyen piled up an unbelievable seven touchdowns for what is surely a new school best. All year a number of the Chiefs have piled up the offensive numbers, but lately Nguyen has been virtually unstoppable.
"Victor Nguyen, I lost count of how many touchdowns he had honestly," said Belknap. "He's a tremendous young man. He has really stepped it up the last two weeks. We've had some injuries and he's stepped in and taken all the snaps and done a great job."
As good as Nguyen has been of late, and he has been great with 349 rushing yards and ten touchdowns the last two games, even he couldn't have seen his seven touchdown night coming.
"I had seven touchdowns coming into this game and doubled my count. I'm pretty surprised," said Nguyen. "It feels great (to help get the team to the playoffs). It was a great team effort."
With one more huge victory in the books, the Chiefs now turn their attention to the postseason. For the first time since 1987, McIntosh is headed to the state football playoffs. Quite the accomplishment, but there's work left to be done. A matchup with Northside-Warner Robins looms.
"It's great. I'm just happy for this whole community," said Johnson. "It's great to see everyone come together like this."
"We told the guys in the locker room this is your goal, but now the second season begins and you don't get any second chances in the second season," Belknap said. "The bar has been raised. It has been a good year, but we don't want to just sit back and enjoy it too much. We want to finish this thing out and continue to compete."
In a game full of scoring, it didn't take long to light up the scoreboard. On just the game's second play Andrew Johnson hit Duke Kinamon up the seam for a 60 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead following a Nick Alvey extra point. Drew matched them with a 71 yard touchdown run on their second play from scrimmage. Just a minute and twenty seconds were off the clock and 14 points were already tallied. There was plenty more where that came from.
The next two series would end in a rarity for the first half. McIntosh's next drive stalled after a long bomb fell incomplete. The Chief defense returned the favor by forcing a three and out, highlighted by a beautiful pass breakup by Darius Stokes.
McIntosh's offense really got in a groove starting with their next series. Andrew Johnson's arm led most of the way upfield, completing a pair of 11 yard passes, one to Josh Ange and one to Trey Walters. Receiver Bill Magill took a jet sweep 17 yards to set up the next score. On the following play Vincent Nguyen scored his first touchdown, this one from four yards out, for a 14-7 lead.
The Chiefs special teams helped paved the way for the next scoring strike. After the defense held steady, Drew tried a fake punt, but it was snuffed out to give McIntosh the ball just past midfield. Nguyen wasted no time striking again, this time taking a hand off around the right side, but cutting back across the defense and racing up the left side for a 49 yard touchdown and a 21-7 advantage.
Drew's offense caught on fire starting with their next series and it was a wacky fourth down that did the trick. Staring down a fourth and 22 out of field goal range the Titans decided to go for it. Quarterback Brandon Pearson found Quarderman Sloan streaking uncovered up the sideline on a wheel route. The pass was a touch underthrown, but Sloan was able to pin in against his shoulder pad till he could control it and finish off the 31 yard score. The touchdown would be the final tally in a 21-14 first quarter.
The second quarter had even more scoring in store. McIntosh raced up the field on a 67 yard scoring drive highlighted by a 22 yard run by Johnson, along with a 19 yard pass to Walters and a 16 yarder to Ange. Johnson and Walters hooked up again, this time on a perfectly executed slant route, for a seven yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead.
Filling in on kickoffs, Matt Dognazzi pinned Drew back with a touchback. The Titans weren't fazed and quickly drove the 80 yards for a score with a two yarder as the capper.
McIntosh had a score loaded up, scoring on a 68 yard drive in short order. Johnson started it with an 11 yard completion to Walters on the first play. On the fourth play, Johnson found Nguyen streaking open up the seam and hit him in stride for a 56 yard touchdown and a 35-21 lead.
Drew returned the ensuing kickoff back past midfield for great starting position. They nearly scored on the first play, but McIntosh safety Josh Reynolds lowered the boom on a long bomb to knock the ball loose. Still, they got what they needed and later scored on a 21 yard touchdown run.
The Chiefs had one more score in them for the first half. The drive nearly stalled as they faced a fourth and one on their own 39. Johnson muscled his way for just enough to move the chains. It was smooth sailing from there as just two plays later Johnson found Kinamon streaking behind the defense for a 50 yard touchdown and a 42-28 lead.
Drew tried to make another go of it before heading to the locker rooms, but McIntosh made a big stand thanks to a massive sack for a 10 yard loss by Owen Peacock on third and long.
The first half went in the books with 70 combined points. Somehow both teams would keep up the pace down the stretch.
Drew got the ball first to start the second half and engineered a 71 yard scoring drive, capped by a four yard run, in under two minutes to slice the lead to seven points.
McIntosh answered back with a 65 yard drive barely over a minute. Half of the yardage came on a 33 yard Johnson-Kinamon connection. The rest came on the very next play, a 33 yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Nguyen, a near carbon copy of their last touchdown connection, for a 49-35 lead.
The Titans put together an 80 yard scoring drive in two minutes and five seconds, ended with a three yard score, to cut the deficit back to seven points. They then put together their first defensive stand of the half to force a McIntosh three and out. After another quick scoring drive it looked like Drew had finally stolen the momentum. A short touchdown had them ready to knot up the score for the first time since 7-7. Instead, McIntosh's Patrick Trianna burst through the line on the extra point and blocked the kick to keep his team in front by one point, 49-48.
Drew tried to latch on to the momentum and went for a surprise onside kick. Sean Ingram was ready and fell on it for the Chiefs, setting them up just outside midfield. McIntosh wasted zero time reasserting their dominance as Nguyen took a handoff on the first play and blazed through the defense for a 51 yard touchdown and a 56-48 lead.
The Chiefs must have liked the idea of an onside because they tried their own, but with better results. Nick Alvey, back to kickoff duties, lofted a gorgeous rainbow kick along the sidelines right to Josh Ange to start the Chiefs inside Drew territory. Nguyen got right back to work with consecutive runs of 22 yards on the first two plays of the series. Johnson plunged in from three yards out on just the third play of the drive to make it 63-48.
The defenses finally woke up late in the third as a McIntosh three and out was sandwiched by two Drew stalled drives. The second was squashed when they tried a screen on fourth and six, but Thomas Streeter played it beautifully to stop the Titans.
Streeter's play set McIntosh up inside Drew territory as the fourth quarter started. Again, it didn't take long to score. A 12 yard pass from Johnson to Kinamon with a roughing the passer tacked on pushed them down deep. An option pitch to Nguyen went for a 10 yard score and a 70-48 advantage.
The teams traded three and outs before Drew's offense struck again. An 86 yard drive was finished off with a more successful screen pass, this one good for a 33 yard touchdown. A successful two point conversion made it a 70-56 game.
After a McIntosh stall, Drew got the ball on their own 20 yard line in need of another score. When the Chiefs needed it most, their defense made another big stand. On third down Josh Espinosa spied another screen pass and brought down the receiver for a four yard loss. On fourth and 13 from their own 17, Drew went deep. Cornerback Avery Braxton had his man blanketed perfectly and swatted the pass away for a turnover on downs with 4:45 left to play.
Just 17 yards from paydirt, McIntosh worked slowly to milk some time off the clock. It was Victor Nguyen again finishing with a flourish, punching it in from five yards out for his seventh touchdown of the game and the final blow in a 77-56 victory.
The obvious star of the night was Nguyen. He piled up an unbelievable 460 total yards (233 rushing on 21 carries, 108 receiving on three catches, 119 kick return yards). Add in seven touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) and you have what is likely the best performance in McIntosh football history.
It took a showing like Nguyen's to overshadow another amazing outing by Andrew Johnson. Johnson was tremendous through the air, completing 16 of 27 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns. He added another 50 yards and a score on the ground. That much yardage and six scores is just the latest highlight in a stellar season by the Chief signal caller.
Wide receiver Duke Kinamon had a monster game of his own, hauling in five passes for 124 yards (24 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Trey Walters added four catches for 49 yards and a score.
Though the stats were gaudy for Drew, McIntosh got a number of key defensive performances. Patrick Trianna led the team with nine tackles, followed by eight from Jake Carney and seven by Josh Reynolds. Owen Peacock added five tackles and a sack. Derek Bertke and Josh Espinosa split a sack. Karl Close made one takedown, but made it count with one tackle for a loss.
Punter Charlie Goedtke didn't get many opportunities to work until late given the onslaught of scoring, but he was sharp when needed. Goedtke boomed six punts an average of 42 yards per with a long of 60, getting two downed inside the twenty.
McIntosh will aim for another monumental victory as they open the state playoffs on the road this week against Northside-Warner Robins.