Huskies strengthen playoff chances with win over Hale
ATLANTA — Coming into Friday’s Midwest Central Michigan 8-Man Conference contest, the Atlanta football team knew it faced a must win scenario in order to keep its playoff hopes alive.
It didn’t come easy, but in the end the Huskies got creative and came up with enough ways to score and defeated Hale in a shootout, 50-42.
“We knew we had to come out and win this game tonight. I was real proud of the ways our guys stepped up late in the game and kept putting the ball into the end zone,” Atlanta coach Troy Cheedie said. “I was a little disappointed with how we played in the first half because we turned the ball over too much and that’s something that has plagued us a lot this season. We made some adjustments as the game went on and it definitely helped us out.”
There was no shortage of offense in the opening quarter as the teams traded blows and found ways to score.
Atlanta (4-4) opened the scoring just over a minute and a half into the game as it needed just four plays to reach pay dirt as Reece Wood ripped off a 37 yard touchdown run.
Just over a minute later, the Eagles responded and tied the game up at eight as quarterback Tanner Klein raced in for a 20-yard touchdown.
On the Huskies’ next possession, quarterback Austin Corbin made one of his few mistakes in the game as he was intercepted on the next play from scrimmage by Klein who took the ball back 55 yards for the score to put Hale ahead 14-8.
Atlanta put the mistake behind it and responded with a five play, 51 yard drive that resulted in a one yard plunge up the middle from Wood for his second score of the quarter as both teams combined for 28 points in the game’s first five minutes.
The Eagles regained a the lead late in the opening quarter when Klein scored his third touchdown in the first 10 minutes of the game. Atlanta had no answer for the shifty signal caller as he went in from nine yards out to put Hale up 22-14.
The Huskies made sure there was one more touchdown in a wild opening quarter as Corbin capped off a six play, 55 yard drive with a three yard touchdown run to help Atlanta tie the game up 22-22 after 12 minutes.
After an offensive outburst in the first quarter, both teams had long 13-play drives that stalled out in enemy territory and each team had just two possessions each in the second quarter.
“We have been working hard on the offensive side of the ball all season and we give a lot of different looks and that was our goal this season to give a bunch of looks and be effective doing so,” Cheedie said. “I really think we’re getting their because we were effective throwing the ball, running the ball and executed when we got creative.”
Both teams were a little sluggish to open the second half, but Hale once again regained a lead with 2:59 left in the third quarter when Patrick Harris raced down the sideline for an 84 yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 28-22.
Atlanta responded just over a minute later when Corbin tossed a 35 yard touchdown to Dallas Robertson. Wood ran in the ensuing two point conversion to give the Huskies a 30-28 lead and one they continued to build on.
Atlanta dominated much of the fourth quarter as Corbin threw two fourth quarter touchdowns, one to Jacob Emerson and the other to Kody Reeves. Robertson scored the Huskies third unanswered touchdown of the quarter from two yards out as Atlanta took a commanding 50-28 lead with 5:58 left.
Hale hit two big plays late, a 52 yard yard pass play and another from 72 yards, both on passes from Harris to Klein after the team made a change in positioning.
Despite Klein’s big game, Hale came up just short. Klein scored a total of five touchdowns, two rushing, two receiver and one interception returned for six. Klein finished with 124 yards receiving and 106 yards rushing. Harris added 112 yards rushing on seven carries with one rushing touchdown and also completed two passes for 124 yards, both went for a touchdown.
The Huskies were led by Corbin who had four total touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground. Corbin was 16-for-27 passing for 255 yards. Wood led the ground attack with 22 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Robertson added 80 yards on nine carries and a score.
Atlanta faces another must-win scenario next week when it travels to Brethren who was 3-3 entering Friday.
After going winless the last two seasons and making the transition to 8-Man football, the Huskies enter the final week of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Nothing is going to be given to us and we have to battle for every win now and hopefully we can keep our season alive and have a shot to make the playoffs,” Cheedie said. “A playoff appearance would mean a lot. We have a lot of support, but people want to see teams winning and now that we are hopefully we’ll get more support and keep the drive alive.”