By Mike Deak
DUNLAP – He’s not shy about putting the game in the hands of his playmakers. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
Deciding to go for two with the game on the line, Nate Andrews’ offense couldn’t find the magic one more time in a 30-29 overtime loss at Concord Friday night.
“We made that decision on first down, and, uh, yeah,” said Andrews, who has a history of going for two in big moments.
After 24 minutes of football, overtime was the furthest thing on either team’s minds as Concord held a 20-3 lead, and that only after Dominic De Freitas connected on a 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter to get the Panthers on the board. Otherwise, the first half was all Concord, the Minutemen scoring on each of its first three drives, then after it punted on its next drive, the ball hit a NorthWood defender and the Minutemen fell on the ball, setting up another Miguel Aguilar field goal.
Aguilar opened the scoring with a 38 yarder, then Hunter Dutton slung a seeing-eye pass to Amarion Moore for 39 yards and another touchdown. Dutton later found Zaven Koltookian for three yards, the culmination of Concord carving up the NorthWood secondary on consecutive drives.
“When we execute, we execute well,” said Concord head coach Craig Koehler. “We ran the ball in the first half again. We threw it and caught it well. We threw it and caught it well at times in the second half, too.”
The second half, however, saw NorthWood jump on the train with a 54-yard pitch and catch from Kaden Lone to JJ Payne. The Panthers again enjoyed the Lone to Payne connection, a 27-yard score down the seam cutting the lead to 20-17.
Aguilar hit his third field goal of the night to make it 23-17, but it was Wes Yoder’s turn to have a moment, hitting the edge and blazing to paydirt from 67 yards to tie the score at 23. The extra point try, however, failed on a botched snap, leaving the scoreboard even.
Both defenses made big plays to keep the score tied heading into overtime, Concord forcing a fumble on a Ni’Tareon reception, and Trey Tobias recording a huge sack of Dutton on a third down play.
Overtime saw Concord strike right out of the gate, Dutton hitting Anthony Trudell to go up 30-23. After Ethan Evers reached the end zone on NorthWood’s first possession, Andrews elected to go for two. On the try, Concord swarmed the Panther backfield and came up with the ball, ending a wild start to the Northern Lakes Conference opener for both clubs.
“We dug ourselves such a big hole,” Andrews said. “Hard to come out of. Especially when they were making plays. They still made plays in the second half. But, we said that we could hang our heads at halftime and we quit. Or, we could do the unordinary and do the hard thing. We came out and did everything we could to fight and dig ourselves out of that hole.”
NorthWood falls to 1-2 overall after back-to-back weeks of close road losses. Concord moves to 2-1 overall, but Koehler wasn’t boasting about the two-game winning streak for his club.
“Until we start playing cleaner football, we are going to have these kinds of games. That’s just the reality,” Koehler said. “It has nothing to do with the talent level of our team. It has nothing to do with schemes. It’s ultimately falling on me. I have to figure out what we need to do a better job of as a coach to play cleaner football. It’s been three straight weeks.”