Chargers fall short in tough defensive battle

Cornerstone's Elijah Rotenberry runs a sweep in a matchup with Crenshaw Christian on Oct. 17. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

Cornerstone’s Elijah Rotenberry runs a sweep in a matchup with Crenshaw Christian on Oct. 17. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

By DREW GRANTHUM/For the Reporter

COLUMBIANA — It was the kind of game no team should have to lose.

Yet, a team had to in the AISA Class A matchup between the Cornerstone Christian Chargers and the Crenshaw Christian Cougars, and the Chargers fell in a slugfest, 20-14.

The Chargers, celebrating homecoming and looking to secure the second seed in the AISA playoffs, took the ball first and drove to the Crenshaw 37 before a fumble gave the Cougars possession.

Crenshaw then took the ball and put together a seven-play drive, but turned the ball over on downs.

After a blocked charger punt, the cougars needed three plays to get on the board off a 17-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good, and the Cougars led, 7-0, at the end of the first quarter.

After turning the ball over on downs, Cornerstone forced a punt. The kick took an awkward bounce, striking a Charger and falling into the hands of the Cougars. On the first play from scrimmage, Crenshaw fumbled, and the Chargers took only four plays to score on a 37-yard strike from Ian Briggs to Jeffrey Odgers. The extra point was blocked, and the Chargers trailed 7-6, with 3:45 left in the quarter.

Crenshaw scored with 42.6 seconds left on the clock, converting the extra point for a 14-6 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Elijah Rotenberry appeared to take kick all the way back to the Crenshaw two, but the ball came loose and was ruled a fumble that went out of the endzone for a Crenshaw touchback. The Cougars took over at the 20, and ran out the clock to take the lead into halftime.

Coming out of the half, Crenshaw turned the ball over on downs, giving Cornerstone the ball on it’s own 37.

Rotenberry broke a 40-yard run to put the Chargers deep in Crenshaw territory. Two plays later, Quartez Walker ran it in from seven yards out for a touchdown. Briggs hit Adams on a pass for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14-14.

Crenshaw scored again on an 8-yard run with 1:49 left in the third. The extra point was no good, and the Cougars held a 20-14 lead.

Cornerstone took over on it’s own 42, and proceeded to work the Cougar defense. The drive stalled on a fumble that Crenshaw recovered.

A punt ensued, and the Chargers took over on their own 38. Walker reeled off runs of 3 and 29 yards before a loss and a false start set the Chargers at 2nd and 22. Briggs then rolled out, and was intercepted with 5:26 left to go.

The Chargers fought valiantly to stop the Cougars to get the ball back, but it was to no avail, as Crenshaw ran out the clock to take the 20-14 win and the Region 2 title.

“Our kids played so hard,” Cornerstone head coach Tim Smith said. “You hate to see them play that hard and come up short the way we came up short. We turned it over too many times. I told them ‘Remember what it feels like. (Crenshaw) won the region championship tonight. You know, if they’re the number one seed, and we’re right there at the end of the season, we’ll got to come back to work Monday and see if we can’t get better.’ We were just six points short.”

The Chargers will travel to Ramer to face South Montgomery County Academy Oct. 24.