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Aces power way past Panthers

ATHENS – Coach Phil Davis knew his team had to get in a shootout.

Sunday, November 14, 1999

ATHENS – Coach Phil Davis knew his team had to get in a shootout. Unfortunately, someone didn’t give his team enough ammunition.

Outmanned up front by the size of the Amanda-Clearcreek Aces, Davis was looking for his Chesapeake Panthers to utilize their speed to produce lots of points.

But the Aces used a ball-control ground game to keep the football out of Chesapeake’s hands en route to a 43-13 win Friday night in the Division IV Region 19 semifinals.

"We knew from the start we needed to score every time we had the ball. We knew they would pound it at us," said Davis.

"We should have scored the first time we had the ball, and the next time we catch the ball on the back line of the end zone that would have been a touchdown. Every time after that we shot ourselves in the foot."

Clearcreek began the first scoring drive from its own 16 in the first quarter and ended it with a 9-yard scoring run by quarterback Tim Gaal on the second play of the second quarter.

Gaal’s conversion kick made it 7-0.

Chesapeake came right back to tie the game thanks to a pair of passes to Robby Isaacs. It was a 41-yard catch by Isaacs on a jump ball that he took from the defensive back that got the ball to the Aces 28.

Isaacs made a big play on third down when he caught a hitch pass and cut all the way back across the field for a 12-yard gain to the 9. Quarterback Andy Clark scored on the next play and the game was tied.

But the Aces answered with a 64-yard, six-play drive. Shawn Cole ran 38 yards and Gaal kept for 20 more to get the ball to the 3. Brandon Kern scored three plays later for a 14-7 lead.

The Chesapeake misfires then began to spark. The Panthers used a pass from Clark to Isaacs to reach the Aces 47, but three penalties and a quarterback sack saw the drive move backward and force a punt from their own 33.

The Aces seized the moment to get a quick score as Kern bolted 41 yards to the 10 and Gaal kept on the next play for the touchdown and the lead was 21-7.

"We haven’t misplayed the option all year. We did and it gave them momentum," said Davis.

Clearcreek got the ball back with 1:04 left in the half and went 43 yards in nine plays. Gaal’s only completion of the game, a 10-yard pass to Brent Davis, capped the drive and put the Aces up 28-7 just before the clock ran out.

"I made the mistake of not telling the officials before the game that (the tight end) was ineligible on that play. He was covered and the man went in motion. We saw that in the film so we didn’t have anyone on him," said Davis.

But Davis was not blaming the officials for the loss. He said Clearcreek was simply the bigger, more physical team.

"Everyone we’ve played this year has been bigger. No one has handle our down guys. We were extremely impressed with their offensive line. They put a body on you, and we felt 36 (Cole) was the key. He did a great job," said Davis.

Cole rushed 17 times for 152 yards and Kern added 133 yards on 11 carries. The Aces rushed 49 times for 386 yards.

Chesapeake, 11-1, was held to only 64 yards rushing but did throw for 201 yards as a team. Clark was 15 of 21 for 166 yards and Isaacs caught seven for 108 yards.

"Give credit to those guys up front. Steve Crabbe did a great job filling in (at tackle)," Aces coach Ron Hinton said. "That’s the way we’ve been playing all year. We do what we do best. The big key was getting the fullback to break through and open it up for Tim on the option."

After an exchange of punts, Clearcreek virtually put the game away with a 66-yard drive that ended on a 41-yard scoring run by Kern and it was 34-7.

The Panthers tried to put together another drive, but a clip and a sack stopped the threat and forced a punt.

Jason Foster blocked the punt and Dan Toill scooped up the ball and returned it 33 yards for the touchdown with 1:28 left in the third quarter to make it 40-7.

Clearcreek (11-1) used a 50-yard, 12-play drive to chew up most of the fourth quarter. Although the drive stalled, Gaal kicked a 31-yard field goal that just cleared the crossbar and it was 43-7 with 6:15 to play.

The reserve units finished the game and Chesapeake’s Jason Adkins scored from 1-yard out with 2:32 to play. The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard pass from Luke Beach to Erick Christian.