Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Juneau United scored its first offensive touchdown in the 22-7 loss to Chugiak. That was the second offensive touchdown. Juneau United scored its first offensive touchdown in Week 1’s 31-8 loss to Palmer. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
A running back-turned-quarterback threw one touchdown and was stopped 6 yards from running in a second one, and sophomore Cooper Kriegmont and Juneau United fell to the Chugiak Mustangs 22-7 on a crisp Friday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Kriegmont, who rushed for 95 yards, was given the ball on four straight plays after a Chugiak fumble gave Juneau a much-needed break after going down two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. The Mustang defense stood tall, and Juneau turned the ball over on downs after advancing just six yards on four straight runs.
The Mustangs, whose offense quieted down in the second half, burned the ensuing four minutes off the clock on a steady string of runs by Austin Harr, all but icing the game.
Chugiak improved to 1-5 and 1-2 in the Chugach Conference, while Juneau dropped to 0-6 and 0-2 in their conference games. Juneau must now try to win their next two games — a senior night tussle next Friday against Colony and a visit to Bartlett Golden Bears’ den the week after — for their best shot at making the playoffs. The top-four teams out of the five-team Chugach Conference advance to the postseason.
Kriegmont, playing in his first full game as quarterback, led a four-play, 67-yard touchdown drive midway through the second quarter. The lefty found senior Cristian Batac deep down field for an exhilarating 53-yard pick-up before delivering a strike to fellow senior Hansel Hinckle in the end zone. It was Juneau United’s second offensive touchdown of the season.
“Compared to the last games that we’ve played, we made a huge jump offensively,” Batac said. “We got within the 20 (yard line) many times to put points on the board. Next game, we’ll put it in.”
Batac had three other grabs and finished with about 70 yards. Hinckle caught five passes for about 60 yards. Both receivers praised Kriegmont’s effort after the game.
“He was the heart of our offense,” Batac said.
That was especially true in the second half, when Kriegmont took the snap and ran with the ball nearly 15 times.
“I’ve been a running back my whole life,” Kriegmont said. “I’m kind of used to getting hit.”
Juneau senior Caleb Traxler set up the touchdown drive after pouncing on a fluky snap with seven minutes left in the second quarter, marking the first Chugiak drive of the game that didn’t result in points. A running touchdown by quarterback Quentin Wilson, a 16-yard field goal by Thomas Sitz and another score by Jacob Oshesky highlighted a spectacular start for the Mustangs.
Oshesky’s 18-yard touchdown catch at 11:06 in the second quarter gave Chugiak a 16-0 lead.
“Our offense was rolling. That first quarter was amazing,” Chugiak coach Ryan Landers said. “And then our second quarter we just started shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit and defense was there to help us out.”
Colt Foglesong added Chugiak’s final score of the game, an interception returned for a 15-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Juneau United put together a 58-yard drive on its next possession, working the ball down to Chugiak’s 5-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, Kriegmont fired to Hinckle in the left side of the end zone, but Chugiak’s Logan Mathieu stepped in front of Hinckle and intercepted the ball, running it up to Juneau’s 14-yard line before being brought down.
It was a play Juneau United would like to forget in an otherwise encouraging game by Kriegmont and his teammates.
“I’m learning every game,” Kriegmont said.