After two and a half hours of high school football, two interceptions by Paskel Cheeves and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Rocklin Curtis, the outcome of the Hammond Golden Bear and Mt. Hebron Viking would come down to the final play of the game.
The Mt. Hebron defense concluded a wild, crazy and wide-open football game with a game-ending quarterback sack with the home team in striking distance of a game-tying score to hang on for a 21-14 victory at Golden Bear Stadium Friday night.
The Golden Bears overcame stalled drives, penalties and turnovers to still have a chance to tie the score late in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of these guys; they fought to the end,” HHS football coach Shawn Frederick said. “We put ourselves in a position to win. We just couldn’t finish. When you’re down two scores, it’s hard to come from behind.
Hammond dominated possession of the football during the majority of the first quarter. The Bears rattled off 18 plays from scrimmage in the first 12 minutes of play and threatened to break a scoreless tie, but a bad snap on a 28-yard field goal attempt kept the score 0-0.
The Vikings scored 14 points in the second quarter on touchdowns from running back Joey Schwartz and receiver Rickie Williams. Williams’ 8-yard touchdown catch came seven seconds before the end of the half and followed a Hammond turnover and pass interference penalty.
Cheeves’ interception halfway through the third quarter gave the Bears a jump start. The senior defender picked off a Viking pass and returned the football 36 yards to the Mt. Hebron two-yard-line. Tyquan Carter put the Golden Bears on the board seconds later with a two-yard touchdown run; Bryce Kohlheim’s point-after-touchdown tightened the score to 14-7.
“The coaches got Paskel in the right spot to make some plays,” Frederick said. “We capitalized on one of the interceptions; I wish we capitalized on the second one.”
The Vikings were next to capitalize. On a second down and long situation five minutes into the fourth quarter, Walter Nelson swept right and broke a tackle to run 56 yards for Mt. Hebron’s third score. Now trailing 21-7, the Golden Bears needed a big play.
Curtis supplied that big play. The senior grabbed the ensuing kickoff at the five yard line and sliced through the blocking wedge for a 95-yard touchdown return. The extra point again made it a seven-point game at 21-14.
“That was beautiful,” Frederick said of the kickoff return. “The guys put their shoulders into the blocks and Rocklin hit it in a hurry. He’s just a real strong athlete, and he broke free.”
Curtis also caught three passes for 45 yards and carried the ball twice for 20 yards.
The Bears advanced to the Viking 30 yard line with under a minute to play, but Mt. Hebron recorded a quarterback sack to end the contest.
Defensively, HHS defensive lineman Aaron Powell stopped three Viking rushes for negative yardage in the first half. Linebacker Juan Mercedes utilized the blitz to tally an 11-tackle evening.
The Golden Bears fell to 0-3 on the season while Mt. Hebron moved to 2-1.
The Hammond junior varsity football team kept its record perfect at 3-0 with a 14-12 victory over Mt. Hebron.