Lenape beat Cherokee in overtime on a 48-yard field goal by Dylan Shank after the Indians scored a late touchdown to force the extra period. Cherokee scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to go in front, setting up Lenape’s late, fourth quarter drive to tie the score.
*I covered this game watching the live stream called by Dan Long on nj.com.
First Quarter: Cherokee came out with the ball and picked up four first downs, staying mostly on the ground. But a fourth-and-7 pass was broken up by Lenape’s Tyler Davis. A Lenape punt on the following drive was downed on Cherokee’s 4-yard line. Cherokee fumbled on the following play with Lenape recovering on the 11. The Indians struck two plays later on an 11-yard score from Brady Long to Hamza Bruce for a 7-0 lead. Another turnover occurred on the following drive when Xavier Coleman intercepted for Lenape on the Cherokee 28. Kobi Ray-Reed ran 17 yards to the 11 and on fourth-and-4 on the 5, Long found Coleman for the touchdown to put Lenape up, 14-0.
Second Quarter: Cherokee started on their 45 and Brandon Boria ran 20 yards to the 35, followed by a Billy Osborn pass to Caden Burti for 18 yards to the 14. The Chiefs settled for a 32-yard field goal attempt, which was no good. Lenape punted into a strong wind on the following drive and Cherokee started on the Lenape 40. Osborn found Mark Phillips for a 37-yard score to put the Chiefs on the board. Another Lenape punt was partially blocked and the Cherokee had the ball on their 40. Osborn found Burti for 21 yards with 30 seconds left and Cherokee advanced as far as the 35, but the last play of the half fell incomplete.
Third Quarter: Lenape came out with the ball and wasted no time. Long connected with Ray-Reed for 18 yards and Coleman for 21, where a 15-yard horsecollar penalty was tacked on, bringing the ball to the 23. Two plays later, Long hit a leaping Davis between two defenders past the left pylon for a 20-yard score. Cherokee advanced down the field, with Osborn completing a pass to Burti for 19 yards and Boria later ripped off a run of 31 yards to make it a first-and-goal on the 6. After Boria picked up five yards, Osborn sneaked in for a 1-yard score. Lenape was pinned back deep after an intentional grounding penalty brought the ball to the 10 and they had to punt with Cherokee on the Lenape 46. The Chiefs methodically moved the ball with Boria scoring from three yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Cherokee took the lead for the first time on an 82-yard run by Boria, going between the tackles before cutting left and outracing the defense down the left sideline with 6:49 left. Lenape was challenged and put together their big drive. On fourth-and-3 from their 46, Ray-Reed had a 4-yard run for the first down. Long found Davis for 11 yards and then Coleman for 17 on third-and-14. Then it was another completion, this time to Brayden Dixon for 14 yards. Facing fourth down a second time, Long faded back and kept the ball, running left for an 8-yard touchdown with one minute left.
Overtime: Lenape had the ball first on the 25 and were back to the 31, courtesy of a holding call and faced a long yardage situation, ending up with Shank kicking the 48-yard field goal. It was Cherokee’s turn and they immediately went to work with a 12-yard run by Boria to the 13. After a 3-yard run, a run for no gain and an incomplete pass brought up fourth down. The Chiefs elected to kick a field goal, but the 27-yard attempt went wide right, giving Lenape the win.
Conclusion: It was a well-played game and it was hard to see either team lose. When challenged from behind for the first time in the fourth quarter, Lenape responded with a five minute drive to force overtime. Both teams elected to kick a field goal: Lenape was successful and Cherokee was not. I give credit to Cherokee for responding when they were down, 21-7, with three straight touchdowns. If anything stood out to me, it was the two turnovers committed by Cherokee in the first quarter that gave Lenape scoring drives of 11 and 28 yards. Add two missed field goals for Cherokee and those are big differences in Lenape’s favor. From the Lenape perspective, good teams take advantage of the opportunities given to them and that is exactly what they did.