By Linda Jacobs
CORRIGAN — Corrigan-Camden survived a dog fight with Garrison, 48-45, as the two teams entered last week's season finale battling for third place in the District 10-3A race.
The victory gives Corrigan (5-5, 3-2) a Class 3A bi-district matchup against District 9-3A runner-up Arp (8-2, 5-1) Thursday in Center. Garrison (6-4, 2-3) will play district champion Elysian Fields (10-0, 5-0) in their first-round playoff game.
"It made the difference in us playing a district champion or a second-place, but either way you're going to play a good football team," Bulldog coach Seven Armstrong said following Friday's slugfest with Garrison.
The game featured strong running attacks, with each team having a back to go over the 200-yard rushing mark. For Corrigan-Camden, senior Jaylon Williams accumulated 241 yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns. Garrison's Jakelen Tutt was equally impressive with 284 yards on 35 carries (4 TDs).
With a lot on the line, the contest was a hard-fought 48-minute battle. Corrigan quarterback Ty Love (11 carries, 105 yards) capped drives of 58 and 91 yards with 14 and one-yard touchdown runs to put the hometown Bulldogs up 13-0 by the 3:38 mark of the opening quarter.
The Corrigan defense halted Garrison on their opening drive, but could not contain Tutt on the second series. The senior speedster rambled for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:19 left in the first to make it a 13-7 ballgame.
Corrigan continued to motor up and down the field and would extend their lead to 21-7 with nine minutes to go in the half. DeMetre Howard (62 yards on 12 carries, 1 TD) took a short Garrison kickoff eight yards to the visiting Bulldogs' 46-yard line to begin a quick four-play march. It was all Williams on the drive, who had carries of 11, 33, -1, and three yards. The hard-running Williams also scored the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead.
Garrison failed to convert on fourth down on the next series and Corrigan had to punt from their own 33 with just over two minutes left in the half.
Garrison was not done, as Keondric Collins returned the Bulldog kickoff 18 yards out to midfield to start a five-play touchdown drive. Quarterback Drew Wise (5-9, 117 yards, 1 TD) connected a 21-yard pass on the drive, and Tutt had four carries, including a two-yard touchdown with 37 seconds on the clock. The point after by Connor Moore was blocked by Howard and Alex Vance for a 21-13 margin at the break.
The second half was a scoring frenzy, as the two teams combined for nine touchdowns.
The half got started with the two teams scoring on their opening drives. Garrison went 60 yards in seven plays and scored on a one-yard run by Tutt with 9:46 on the clock. Corrigan answered with a nine-play, 55-yard touchdown drive, capped with a seven-yard run by Howard and point after by Zack Ivie to hold a 28-19 advantage with 5:13 left in the third.
Things got a little shaky on Corrigan's next two series, as the Bulldogs fumbled on a fake punt and later had to punt from their own 40-yard line.
Garrison would garner their first lead of the game by scoring on back-to-back drives of 60 and 48 yards, respectively. A 44-yard strike from Wise to Jakobie Hodge pulled the Bulldogs to within 28-25 at the 3:42 mark of the third.
After the Corrigan fumble, Garrison needed just one play, as Tutt side-stepped a couple of defenders on his longest run of the game (48 yards) to give his team their first lead at 32-28 with 1:27 left in the third.
"They lined up a little different in the second half and got us off track just a little bit," Armstrong said of their sluggish third quarter.
"They made some changes at halftime and kind of took away what our game plan was against them. We had to adjust and we finally did, and that was good to see. We've just got to be able to do it a bit sooner, but we continued to fight all night long.
"Defensively, we played decent in spurts and then we'd miss a tackle here or there and with their good back, he was gone.
"We also let some passes get away from us tonight that were major defensive player mistakes and that we can't allow. It's just a deal where we still have plenty to work on. It's not like we're not going to have anything to work on in practice on Monday," said Armstrong.
With the lead, Garrison halted Corrigan's third possession of the second half, forcing Ivie to punt. However, five plays into the Garrison drive, Williams intercepted a Wise pass and returned the miscue 28 yards to the Garrison 12-yard line.
On the second play from scrimmage, Williams lost yardage and the Bulldogs faced third and 15. On the next play, Love rolled out to his right and hit Howard who sped into the end zone for a 17-yard score. Ivie split the uprights to give Corrigan a 35-32 lead with 7:49 left in the game.
In the final minutes remaining, the two teams would score twice more. It took Garrison just 15 seconds to score, as Collins returned the Corrigan kickoff 82 yards to put his team up 38-35 with 7:34 on the clock.
Following a 16-yard kickoff return by Ivie, Corrigan answered with an extra-effort run by Williams who scooted across 28 yards of turf to score at the 5:44 mark. An Ivie PAT gave the home team a 42-38 lead.
Garrison scored with 2:22 left in the game, capping a nine-play, 64-yard scoring drive with a one yard plunge by Tutt. Moore split the uprights for a 45-42 lead.
A good-hands squib kick was recovered by Dylan Purvis to give the Bulldogs good field position at the Garrison 49 to set up what would be the winning score of the game.
Love got it rolling with a 25-yard pass to Robert McAdams. Despite a penalty on the play, the Bulldogs still had a first down at the Garrison 34. Love gained 14 yards on a keeper around the right side, down to the 21. Williams had two carries for yardage to the 16. Love then added a 13 yard run to the three for first and goal. Williams finished the drive at the 1:11 mark to put the home team back on top, 48-45.
Garrison threatened on the final drive, advancing from their own 33 to the Corrigan 22. With time not on their side, they elected to attempt a 39-yard field goal. The kick by Connor sailed just left of the cross bar as time expired on the clock, securing a Corrigan victory.