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Chargers knock off Cougars, 40-27

WESTBROOK -- Rushing the ball 50 times for 272 yards and applying heavy defensive pressure Friday night, the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers maintained a one-game lead in the Southwest Ridge Conference football standings with a 40-27 victory over the Cedar Mountain/Comfrey Cougars.

Austin Quade (19 carries for 136 yards) and Josh Merrick (21 carries for 117 yards) did the bulk of the rushing for W-WG, while Derek Eichner completed 10-of-13 passes for 150 yards.

Joe Doubler (14 tackles and four sacks) and Justin Knakmuhs (11 tackles, three sacks, a forced safety and a fumble recovery) were two of the defensive playmakers for the Chargers.

"This was a nice victory for us against an up-and-coming team," W-WG co-head coach Leo Theisen said following the game. "Our defensive pressure from our front line was a big key, and we defended the Cougars well for the first three quarters."

W-WG (4-0) scored the game's first points with 7:16 on the first-quarter clock, as Merrick ran in from seven yards out to put the Chargers up 6-0. The two-point conversion try was no good, as were the next four attempts for W-WG.

Ben Pacholl (two interceptions) had a pick to set up that first Charger touchdown, and W-WG's defense created the game's next points early in the second quarter.

The Cougars (2-2) were facing a third-and-15 from their own three-yard line when Knakmuhs put a big hit on quarterback Nick Johns. Standing in the end zone, Johns was called for intentional grounding on the play, resulting in a safety to give W-WG an 8-0 lead with 11:17 to go in the first half.

W-WG then put together a 34-yard scoring drive, as Weston Dibble's kick return set the Chargers up in Cougars' territory.

Eichner hit Michael Jarmer with a quick-strike, 13-yard pass play before Merrick later capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run, giving the Chargers a 14-0 lead with 9:17 to play in the second quarter.

CM/C answered on the ensuing series, as Tony Schumacher broke free for a 53-yard touchdown sprint with 8:20 on the clock. Doubler blocked Thomas Schumacher's extra-point kick, leaving the score at 14-6.

That run accounted for almost all of the Cougars' rushing yards, as they netted just 60 total yards on the ground on 24 carries.

"We shut down their running game for the most part," Theisen said. "We also defended the pass very well until the fourth quarter."

W-WG scored with 1:40 remaining to take a 20-6 lead into halftime, as Eichner and Quade (three receptions for 30 yards) hooked up for a seven-yard touchdown.

The Chargers opened the third quarter with the ball and went on a long scoring march. Jace Jarmer made a diving catch to complete a 36-yard pass from Eichner to key the drive.

On fourth-and-five from the Cougars' 30-yard line, Eichner found a wide-open Mason Comnick with a quick-hitter over the middle. Comnick easily scored on the play, increasing W-WG's lead to 26-6 with 6:38 to go in the third period.

"That was a big drive for us and gave us a 20-point lead," Theisen said. "We did some very nice things offensively, as our backs looked good carrying the ball through the holes created by our linemen."

The Chargers made it 32-6 on the third play of the fourth quarter, as Quade bulled his way into the end zone from five yards out with 11:28 to go in the game. Doubler (three receptions for 40 yards) made a sprawling 27-yard catch between two defenders on a fourth-down play to keep the drive alive.

The Cougars controlled the rest of the game, as Johns (14-for-25, 205 yards passing) picked apart the Chargers' secondary with a furious aerial attack.

After Johns completed two passes for 56 yards, CM/C scored its second touchdown on a four-yard run from Dylan Dahmes with 6:43 left. Dahmes also ran in for the two-point conversion, making it 32-14.

On the Cougars' next possession, Johns completed three more passes for 72 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Pendleton with 3:02 to play. The two-point try failed, but the Cougars were within two scores at 32-20.

W-WG answered a minute later, as Merrick ripped off a 35-yard gain to score his third touchdown of the game. Eichner found Comnick on the two-point attempt -- the first successful one for W-WG -- and the Chargers were up 40-20 with 2:06 to play.

CM/C later found the end zone to complete the scoring, as Johns hit Alex Madsen from four yards out. Thomas Schumacher was good on the point-after kick to make the final score 40-27.

Quade finished with eight tackles and an interception, while Eichner made 12 tackles, and Theo Johnson charted nine tackles for the Chargers.

W-WG hosts Southwestern United Friday.

CM/C 0 6 0 21 -- 27

W-WG 6 14 6 14 -- 40