The Estevan Century 21 U12 Chargers football team has had a familiar refrain for its games this season: fall behind early, and then show resiliency by having a late game rally, only to come up just short.
The Chargers (0-3) dropped a 20-19 decision to the Moose Jaw Lions on Saturday afternoon at Woodlawn Athletic Field. The Lions had a 20-0 lead at one point late in the first half, but the Chargers dominated the second half, outscoring the Lions 19-0 and limiting the Lions offensively.
Chargers coach Matt Schell said the club gave the Lions great field position in the first half because the offence wasn’t blocking or adapting to the Lions blitz package.
“Finally we got that taken care of, and after half time, I told those kids to stop being afraid, and reminded them those kids (on Moose Jaw) are the same as you,” said Schell.
When the Chargers play hard and fearless football, it shows in the results they had in the second half.
The Chargers had a chance to score late in the first half, but their drive stalled at the six-yard line when time expired. Moose Jaw marched the ball to begin the second half, but their drive ended at the Chargers 15-yard-line due to an interception.
From there, the Chargers dominated.
Cooper Pukas scored on a long touchdown run midway through the third to put the Chargers on the board. Ironically, it was the third time Pukas found the end zone on that drive; two longer runs were negated by penalties.
Estevan scored again early in the fourth to pull to within eight on a major by Peyton Tendler. And then Pukas scored on another long run with under one minute remaining to cut the deficit to a single point.
Moose Jaw fumbled the ball on their next possession, giving the Chargers one more chance, but this time they couldn’t find the end zone.
“I’m proud of those kids. They played their butts off,” said Schell.
Schell called Pukas a special talent who never wants to leave the field.
“I’ve been around this game for quite a while, and I haven’t seen a kid that just has the natural instincts that Cooper does. He is … very slippery. If there’s a broken tackle stat, he must have had a hundred today.”
On the defensive side of the ball, they were able to force several turnovers by the Lions.
The Chargers next game will be Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Woodlawn Athletic Field against the Moosomin Little Generals.
The Estevan Lions Club U14 Oilers lost 46-0 to the Moose Jaw Vikings on Friday night at Woodlawn. The game was played under the lights on a Friday night.
Their next game will be Sept. 20 at the Moose Jaw Raiders.