Malemute fans cheered on the Lathrop High School football team in the final seconds of Saturday’s matchup against the Service Cougars as Malemute quarterback Jace Henry connected with senior receiver Jhon Rones for a touchdown.
But the extra six points didn’t make much difference in the game’s outcome, as the scoreboard read 51-20 when time ran out.
Despite Service reaching the red zone four times in the first half and recording 237 yards of total offense compared to Lathrop’s 189 yards, the Malemutes led the undefeated Cougars 14-7 going into halftime.
“Early on we bent and didn’t break,” Lathrop head coach Luke Balash said after the game.
“Kids were fresh and healthy and flying around making plays. I think that really slowed as the game wore on and guys got tired and beat up a little bit.”
Lathrop scored on its first position when Henry and Rones connected for an 82-yard touchdown pass and again late in the third quarter on an 18-yard quarterback keeper. Henry led the team in the first half with 40 yards rushing. The 6-foot-3 senior also passed for 102 yards.
The Cougars only touchdown came on a 77 yard touchdown run from LeTrevyon Sanchez-Dickerson.
The Lathrop defense couldn’t keep up with the Service hurry-up offense in the second half. Cougars quarterback Jacob Scott connected with Henry Helgeson three times for touchdown passes.
Ryan Williams contributed a 34-yard touchdown run and a field goal in the second half for Service and Sebastian O’Farrell found the endzone on a botched Lathrop punt.
The Malemutes turned the ball over twice in the second half, with Service scoring touchdowns on both ensuing drives.
“I told our guys that I love them and I’m not ashamed of them at all. We had a few turnovers that made it worse than it needed to be,” Balash said.
“We had a few mistakes on special teams that hurt us. We had some injuries on defense that wore us down. … We’re broken but not destroyed so we will bounce back.”
The 4-0 Cougars were coming off a week three 63-0 shutout against West Valley.
Saturday’s game was Lathrop’s first since its Aug. 24 loss to West Anchorage 21-14. The Malemutes were scheduled to play at Kenia but the game was canceled due to wildfires. The team now holds a 1-2 record.
Lathrop next travels to take on the Soldotna Stars at 6 p.m. Friday.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.