Merrillville defeats Bulldogs 24-21 in OT, after amazing back-and-forth contest
A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|CP's Ben Uran (16) and the Bulldogs take the
field to take on Merrillville last Friday.
(All photos by Mark Smith.)
|CP quarterback Will Pettit (7) eyes halfback Davian Lira (5) on this first half play against Merrillville.|
|Merrillville senior Jeremiah Howard (19) makes a point during the CP-Merrillville game. Howard would later score the winning points in overtime.|
|CP's Donovan Huffine (8) grabs an interception in the second quarter in back of Merrillville's Raleigh Roberson (3). The Bulldogs have six pass interceptions in three games.|
|Big Merrillville tackle Martes Lewis (70) strong arms CP's Calvin Pawlowski (39) to protect quarterback Aahric Whitehead in last week's game. Whitehead has now thrown for six TDs in three games.|
|Merrillville's Xzavier Shell (4) looks for room to run after a first half pass reception.|
|CP sophomore Sammy Brewer (1) kicks one of his three field goals Friday against Merrillville.|
|Halftime saw the Pirates with an 11-point lead in Crown Point. Merrillville led by 18 before CP rallied to send the game to overtime.|
|Crown Point sophomore Jesse Mendez is saluted by the home crowd as athletic director Bill Dorulla looks on. Mendez. a three-time middle school state wrestling champion, went 42-0 last winter to win the Indiana state wrestling championship at 126 pounds.|
|CP's Matthew Walters (24) chases Merrillville's Adonnis Johnson (13) on a kickoff return in the second quarter.|
|Crown Point junior Felix Meeks (83) looks to block for CP quarterback Will Pettit. Pettit threw two interceptions in the first half, but he also threw two touchdowns in the second half of the Bulldogs' 27-24 loss to Merrillville. (All photos by Mark Smith.)|
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|MERRILLVILLE (3-0, 1-0 DAC)||0||14||7||13||6||24|
|CROWN POINT (1-2, 0-1 DAC)||0||6||13||7||3||21|
Friday, September 6, 2019 - 65 degrees and North winds at 10-15 mph at kickoff - Duneland Athletic Conference opener at CROWN POINT, Ind.
2nd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (7-0) Damian Dixon, 3-yard run. 41-yard drive, 3 plays. 1:59 min. Time of Possession (TOP). Austin Pupek kick. 11:29 left.
CROWN POINT (3-7) Sammy Brewer, 42-yard field goal. 37-yard drive, 7 plays. 4:17 min TOP. 9:27 left.
MERRILLVILLE (14-3) MERRILLVILLE (14-3) Anthony Mitchell, 55-yard interception return. Pupek kick. 3:09 left.
3rd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (21-3) Armani Glass, 27-yard pass from Aahric Whitehead. 47-yard drive, 4 plays. 1:24 min. TOP. Pupek kick. 7:05 left.
CROWN POINT (11-21) Tysen Cazy, 19-yard pass from Will Pettit. 44-yard drive, 7 plays. 1:10 min. TOP. David O’Toole, 2-point conversion pass from Pettit. 4:46 left.
CROWN POINT (14-21) Sammy Brewer, 43-yard field goal. 15-yard drive, 5 plays. 2:17 TOP. 2:17 left.
4th Qtr: CROWN POINT (21-21) Tysen Cazy, 6-yard pass from Will Pettit. 73-yard drive, 11 plays. 4:06 min. TOP. Sammy Brewer kick. 7:03 left.
1st Overtime: CROWN POINT (24-21)
Sammy Brewer 21-yard field goal.
MERRILLVILLE (27-24) Jeremiah Howard, 16-yard (3rd down) pass from Aahric Whitehead.
MERRILLVILLE (40 carries, 139 yards, one TD): Damian Dixon (HB) 20 carries, 92 yards one TD; Aahric Whitehead (QB) 10 carries (minus 15 yards) 4 sacks (minus-41); Edward Akins (HB) 1 (minus-2 yards); Peter Rodriguez (QB) 9 carries, 64 yards.
CROWN POINT (21 carries, 38 yards): Matthew Walters (HB) 12 carries, 21 yards; Davian Lira (HB) 7-12 yards; Will Pettit (QB) 2-5 yards.
MERRILLVILLE: Aahric Whitehead (QB) 12 of 18, 143
yards, 2 TDs; Peter Rodriguez (QB) 2 of 4, 43 yards.
CROWN POINT: Will Pettit (QB) 14 of 31, 128 yards 2 TDs, 2 INTs.
MERRILLVILLE: Jeremiah (WR) 6-55 yards, one TD; Armani Glass (WR) 4-95 yards, Xzavier Shell (WR) 2-11 yards; Eddie Drake (RB) 1-12 yards; Raleigh Roberson (WR) 1-11 yards.
CROWN POINT: Tysen Cazy (WR) 6 catches, 45 yards,
2 TDs; Felix Meeks (TE) 2-19 yards; Matthew Walters (HB) 1-9 yards; Ben Uran
(TE) 2-44 yards; Davian Lira (RB) 1 (minus-3) yards.
MERRILLVILLE: 295 yards, 15 first downs, 2 turnovers (2 interceptions).
CROWN POINT: 166 yards, seven first downs, 2 turnovers (2 interceptions).
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After rallying from 18 points behind on a windy September Friday, it looked
like Crown Point was going to get the best of arch-rival Merrillville in
When CP sophomore Sammy Brewer kicked his third field goal of the game in the extra period, the Bulldogs led 24-21. The pro-Crown Point crowd got louder and louder when Merrillville’s offense lost six yards on its overtime plays.
But it wasn't over yet.
Pirate senior quarterback Aahric Whitehead fired a high arching pass into the back of the end zone where senior teammate Jeremiah Howard made a leaping catch over two CP defenders to snatch a dramatic 27-24 win over the Bulldogs.
Howard, who caught six passes for 55 yards in the game, soared high into the air along the back line of the end zone to make the deciding catch, setting off a wild celebration in purple and white on the visitors' sidelines.
“I didn't really see anything,” Whitehead said later of his plan on the game-winning score. “I just wanted to give my guy a chance to make a play.”
This was an unforgettable game. Merrillville was up 18 points in front of about 3,000 fans on a 60-degree autumn night. The Bulldogs challenged what looked like a superior Pirate team by scoring 21 unanswered points to take the lead, the first time all season that Merrillville had trailed.
Then Whitehead and Howard made a memorable play worthy of the National Football League.
“They all seem to be memorable against Crown Point,” said Pirates coach Brad Seiss. “We had trouble with the lead. They came back on us. But I’ll give our kids credit. We had no momentum there at all at the end. A horrible play to start the overtime (losing six yards on first down). But we were able to make a play. Everybody knew what was coming. Our big guy just went up and made a huge play for us.”
The game was much more entertaining than it was well-played. Four pass interceptions gave the ballgame some mood swings.
On the next-to-last play of a scoreless first quarter, Merrillville junior Anthony Mitchell intercepted a pass by CP quarterback Will Pettit at the Crown Point 41-yard line.
On the next play, senior halfback Damian Dixon ran off left tackle 36 yards to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line. Two plays later Dixon pushed into the zone behind 325-pound right tackle Martes Lewis and the Pirates had a 7-0 lead.
CP (1-2) rallied with the help of a 34-yard pass from Pettit to senior Tysen Cazy. Bulldog sophomore Sammy Brewer booted a 42-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
Merrillville (3-0) came right back with a 77-yard drive, which ended when Whitehead fired a 26-yard pass to junior Armani Glass, giving the Pirates a 14-3 halftime lead.
Merrillville started strong in the third period and Whitehead hit Glass in the middle of the field on a 3rd down play at the Crown Point 27-yard-line. Glass broke at least three tackles and reached the end zone to make it 21-3 Pirates with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
Crown Point turned the game around here after a 38-yard kickoff return by David O’Toole. On a 3rd-and-16, Pettit found tight end Felix Meeks for 20 yards to the Merrillville 30-yard-line. Three plays later Pettit’s pass got the 6-foot-3 Cazy into the end zone from 19 yards out. The Bulldogs tried and made a two-point conversion on a pass to O’Toole and the score was 21-11.
The Pirates seemed to lose some confidence at this point as Merrillville was forced to punt from their own 33 and a bad boot only carried eight yards.
CP could not move the ball, but a pass interference call on the Pirates moved the ball to the Merrillville 26. Brewer kicked his second field goal of the game from 43 yards away and the Bulldogs trailed just 21-14 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
Crown Point’s Donovan Huffine intercepted a pass by Whitehead moments later and CP started a 63-yard drive. Pettit to Cazy for six yards tied the score with 7:03 left in the game.
Merrillville could have won the game in the final minute of the fourth quarter. A short Crown Point punt into a 15 mile-an-hour wind carried only to the CP 39.
The Pirates’ Dixon carried the ball four times in a row and Merrillville got to the CP 8-yard-line. And with just four seconds left in the game, Merrillville’s Austin Pupek lined up for a 29-yard field goal that would have won the game on the final play.
Pupek’s kicked appeared to be low and CP’s Ben Uran blocked it to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, CP settled for a 21-yard field goal by Brewer before Merrillville scored the game winner on the pass from Whitehead to Howard.
Crown Point’s boys are probably tired of hearing this but, as was the case in the Bulldogs’ week one 21-19 loss at Lowell, this was a spectacular game to watch if you didn't care who won.
“I’ve been in a lot of games like this,” Whitehead said on the field after the game. ”Freshman. JV. And most of them are against Crown Point.”
BULLDOG/PIRATE NOTES: Merrillville’s 27-24 win marked the fifth year in a row that the Pirates had beaten their big neighbor school to the south. Crown Point has defeated Merrillville in Class 6A Sectional 1 playoffs in each of the last three years.
Crown Point had placekicking problems in 2018. They do not have such problems now. Sophomore Sammy Brewer kicked three field goals Friday giving him four successful field goals for the year. He is also 5 for 5 on point after touchdown (PAT) kicks after three weeks.
The Bulldogs' Next Opponent, 9-13-2019:
The Duneland Conference Standings
heading into Week-4:
|ALL TIMES CENTRAL|
|Merrillville||1-0||27||24||3- 0||96||44||Won 3|
|Valparaiso||1-0||35||0||3- 0||132||14||Won 3|
|Lake Central||1-0||30||21||2- 1||67||48||Won 1|
|Michigan City||1-0||21||7||2- 1||100||34||Won 1|
|Chesterton||0-1||7||21||2- 1||68||34||Lost 1|
|Crown Point||0-1||24||27||1- 2||67||48||Lost 1|
|Portage||0-1||21||30||1- 2||83||81||Lost 1|
|LaPorte||0-1||0||35||0- 3||20||116||Lost 4|
|Friday, Sep. 6|
|Lake Central 30, Portage 21 ©|
|Merrillville 27, Crown Point 24, OT ©|
|Michigan City 21, Chesterton 7 ©|
|Valparaiso 35, LaPorte 0 ©|
|Friday, Sep. 13|
|Crown Point at Lake Central ©, 7 pm|
|LaPorte at Chesterton ©, 7 pm|
|Michigan City at Valparaiso ©, 7 pm|
|Portage at Merrillville ©, 7 pm|
|Friday, Sep. 20|
|Crown Point at Portage ©, 7 pm|
|Lake Central at LaPorte ©, 7 pm|
|Merrillville at Michigan City ©, 7 pm|
|Valparaiso at Chesterton ©, 7 pm|