Patriots edge Sweet Water

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

SWEET WATER-It was an all too familiar scene for Sweet Water fans. For the second year in a row American Christian Academy quarterback Chris Smelley led a game winning drive to pull out a thriller 41-40 over Sweet Water.

After the Bulldogs took a 40-34 lead with 1:12 remaining in the game Smelley and the Patriots went to work on a 6 play 90 second drive that ended with 26 yard touchdown reception by Del Howell to tie the score 40-40 with 22 seconds left. A Luke Sheehan extra point and Smelley interception sealed the win.

The game was a slugfest from the beginning. Sweet Water took command of the game early as they drove straight down the field and hit pay dirt on a 5 yard Travion Lockett touchdown run. The extra point failed leaving the Bulldogs with a slim 6-0 lead.

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Smelley and the Patriots wasted little time in answering. The Patriots put together an eight-play 53-yard drive capped with a Smelley to Rick Spybey 7 yard score. Sheehan came through with the extra point to make the score 7-6 Patriots.

The lead would change again early in the second as Sweet Water pounded out another long drive, this time going 75 yards in eight plays. Dominic Holt would find the endzone with 11:12 in the half and Anthony Landrum added the two point conversion to make the score 14-7 Sweet Water.

American Christian used their ground game for their second score as Spybey weaved through the Sweet Water defense for an 8 yard score to cap a 10-play 67-yard drive. The PAT was no good leaving the Bulldogs with a slim 14-13 lead.

The slim lead would grow only two plays into Sweet Water’s next drive. Anthony Landrum hit the line and never slowed up flying 60 yards downfield to pull the lead to 20-14. The extra point failed.

The final stages of the first half were all Patriots as Smelley’s passing combined with a potent rushing attack keyed American Christian to a halftime lead. Smelley delivered an 8-yard touchdown pass on their next possession and another for 16 yards to Brad Smelley with 8 seconds remaining in the half to push the Patriots to a 27-20 halftime lead.

In the second half it looked as if the Patriots were going for the blowout. On their first possession Spybey had consecutive carries of 40 and 1 yard to give the Patriots a 33-20 lead with only 31 seconds off the clock. The PAT was good and ACA led 34-20.

Just when it looked like the game was out of reach the Bulldogs forced three consecutive turnovers to turn the game completely around. Drew Luker recovered a Patriot fumble at the 7-yard line to set up a bruising 93-yard touchdown drive. Deon Williams plowed in from 1 yard to pull the Bulldogs to within eight points as time expired in the third quarter.

Jacques Lockett would do the honors on the Patriots next possession as he pounced on another Patriot fumble at the ACA 39. Sweet Water converted two huge fourth downs before Lockett would score on a 9-yard reverse. The two-point conversion failed leaving Sweet Water behind 34-32 with only five minutes remaining in the game.

Luker again stepped up to make the big play on defense as he grabbed an errant Smelley pass at the Patriot 33. The interception appeared to be the game saving play as the Bulldogs put together a masterful, time-consuming drives. Sweet Water used eight plays and 3:41 before Holt scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. Williams added the two-point conversion to give Sweet Water what appeared to be the game sealing 40-34 lead.

Smelley’s arm and Sheehan’s toe would say otherwise.

The Bulldogs, now 5-2, will try to get back on the winning track next week against John Essex.