ARLEE – “You’re in a football game now, huh?”
Those words were spoken by Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler as his team headed back to the sideline huddle after an Arlee touchdown that tied the game at 6-6 in the first quarter. And he could not have been happier to say them.
The Titans got a much needed test Friday night, but came through it with more than a passing grade as they defeated the host Warriors 34-16. The win advances them to 6-0 and keeps them atop the Class C 8-Man Standings at 6-0, while Arlee falls to 4-2.
“Perfect. It was awesome,” said Cutler describing the win. “That’s a good football team that we just played. They are extremely well coached and we got to go toe-to-toe with them. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
On their first possession, the Titans’ Jaxon Lee broke free on a run from the backfield and went 60 yards for a score just 46 seconds into the game for a 6-0 lead.
But unlike the previous five teams that Flint Creek has faced this year, Arlee was not about to back down.
The Warriors started a sustained rushing attack that took them the length of the field to the Titan seven. From there quarterback Lane Schall hit Chase Gardner in the corner of the end zone for the tying score.
It was the first time all season that Flint Creek had an opponent answer their opening salvo.
On their next possession, Titan QB Kade Cutler broke through the line and ran it in from 45 yards out. Flint Creek added the conversion on a Colby Manley run to make it 14-6.
The very next play saw the Titans flex their defensive muscle as Lee stepped in front of a pass from Arlee’s Schall near midfield, returning it to the Arlee 26. From there it was Cutler going to the and hitting Daniel Brabender for a score and a 20-6 margin.
“On offense we were just trying to be patient and take what’s there with their defense,” said Warrior Head Coach Chuck Forgey. “There are certain things against that cover-two that are there. We thought we could run it a little bit on them. No one’s really lined up and pounded it at them and that kind of got it going for us.”
As the second quarter opened, that same strategy had Arlee at the Flint Creek 11. Schall threw his second TD of the game to Darshan Bolen and followed it with a pass to Lane Johnson for the conversion cutting the Titan lead to 20-14.
Not to be out done, Flint Creek fired right back. After a few plays that left the ball on their own 29, Manley found a hole and rambled 49 yards for the score. Cutler and Brabender connected on the conversion and the Titans extended their lead to 28-14 with 11:06 to play in the half.
Arlee started moving the ball on their next possession, but started to find the going tougher. It was then that Flint Creek Line Coach J.C. Holland changed up the Titans’ line play.
“Coach Holland made an adjustment, midway through the second quarter on defense that changed everything for us,” said Cutler reflecting on the game. “You know they were kind of hurting us with the run at the beginning of the game, but he made a line adjustment … that forced them to change their blocking scheme.”
Along with their natural talent, the change made by Flint Creek took Arlee out of its normal game. The result saw the Warriors sputter offensively and give up a pair of fumbles that kept them from scoring the remainder of the game.
Arlee did get as close the Titan five with 1:06 to play in the first half. But when Schall tried a QB keeper to get the Warriors another TD, he fumbled into the end zone. Flint Creek’s Riley Allen scooped up the ball and returned it to the 26, stifling Arlee’s last best attempt to score.
As the second half opened Arlee seemed to have made their own adjustment to get the ball moving again. But when running back Colt Crawford coughed up the ball on his own 29, the Titans were back in business.
A few plays into the drive, Kade Cutler found another hole created by his linemen and scampered 17 yards for the game’s final score.
As time waned and the Warriors were forced to go to the air, Flint Creek linemen Riley Allen and Wyatt Rigby each registered a pair of sacks. Their results came as Kane Hess provided pressure up the middle that ran Schall into the waiting arms of his teammates.
Flint Creek will now turn its sights toward the final third of their schedule, starting with the Darby Tigers October 5 in Drummond. The Tigers are 3-3 on the year and coming off 74-12 drubbing of the Troy Trojans Friday night. The previous week they played Arlee, losing 48-12.
The Darby-Flint Creek game is slated for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SWX network and mobile app.
Flint Creek – 20/8/8/0 - 36
Arlee – 6/8/0/0 – 14
FC – 6-0 – 11:14 – Lee 60-yard run TD. Conversion run failed.
AR – 6-6 – 6:09 – Schall 7-yard pass to Gardner TD. Conversion pass failed.
FC – 14-6 – 5:46 – Cutler 45-yard run TD. Manley conversion run.
FC – 20-6 – 4:56 – Cutler 26-yard pass to Brabender TD. Conversion run failed.
AR – 20-14 – 11:53 – Schall 11-yard pass to Bolen TD. Schall to Johnson conversion pass.
FC – 28-14 – 11:06 – Manley 49-yard run TD. Cutler to Brabender conversion pass.
FC – 36-14 – 5:01 – Cutler 17-yard run TD. Manley conversion run.