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Football: Decatur rebounds to win in overtime
"Things couldn't have looked much worse for the Decatur Gators at halftime of their South Puget Sound League football game at Rogers Friday night.But things couldn't have looked much better when it was over.The Gators overcame a 28-point halftime deficit to rally for a 35-34 overtime victory at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. A 10-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Waltos to Aaron Doherty and Jason Bressler's extra point kick sealed the win.They beat us by one last year (10-9) and we beat them by one this year. I'm pumped. I can't believe it, said Decatur quarterback Jeff Waltos. Everybody believed that we were going to do it and it happened.The Gators went into their bag of tricks for a 53-yard fumbleroosky to set up the game-tying touchdown. With the entire Rogers defense following the convincing fake sweep left by quarterback Jeff Waltos, guard Eric Swift rambled 53 yards down the right side. He made it to the Rams' 12-yard line before being pushed out of bounds. Running back Jason Bressler took it in from there. Bressler then kicked the extra point to tie the game at 28-28 with 1:53 remaining.In overtime, a pass interference call on third down kept the Rams' drive alive. Rogers workhorse fullback Luke Kobes scored from one yard out to put the Rams ahead 34-28. Holder Ben McElfish couldn't bring down the snap on Kobes' extra point attempt, leaving the door open for the Gators.On their overtime possession, the Gators faced a fourth-and-9 at the 10. Waltos had completed just four of 10 passes to that point with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Rams had smothered the Gators' outside receivers all game so Decatur assistant coach Sam Hunt called for a delayed route by tight end Aaron Doherty over the middle.The middle parted and Waltos hit a wide-open Doherty in the middle of the end zone to tie the game.I was just waiting for him to get into the end zone. Then I just had to gun it. They were coming, Waltos said.Even after the Rams called a time-out to ice Bressler, he nailed the extra point to win the game.I just tried to relax and make it seem like any normal kick, said Bressler, who had already kicked four extra points, including one from 35 yards out due to a penalty. Needing to win their final three games to make the playoffs, Decatur's postseason hopes looked to be dashed in a first half filled with Gator mistakes. Rogers returned a blocked punt and an interception for touchdowns. The Rams again scored on the final play of the first half after recovering a Decatur fumble just 18 yards from the end zone.Whatever was said at halftime did some good.I can't say, Bressler said of the context of Decatur's halftime talk.Two major factors separated that first half and second half. First Decatur eliminated most of their mistakes. Second, Rogers' standout quarterback, Jeremy Kellogg, was sidelined after taking a shot to the knee by Decatur defensive back Nick McCluskey late in the first half.Obviously he's been our team leader. He took a helmet to the knee. That was unfortunate, said Rogers coach Bill Wernofski. It was a good game. Decatur played well and executed its stuff when it needed to.In the first half with Kellogg in the game, the Rams ran up 183 yards of offense. In the second half without Kellogg, Decatur held Rogers to just 58 yards of offense.The Gators did a little bit of everything wrong in the first half, including two illegal procedure penalties and being sacked on their first five offensive sets.Kellogg set up the Rams' first touchdown with a 50-yard run. Kobes, who finished with 97 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, scored from one yard out. He kicked the extra point to put the Rams ahead 7-0 with four minutes, 29 seconds left in the first quarter.The Rams then ran up the score with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Anderson. Jeremy Palkowetz then blocked a punt by McCluskey and ran it in 15 yards for another touchdown.Decatur then handed the Rams another scoring opportunity, fumbling on the 16 with just 29 seconds left in the first half. Kobes scored his second touchdown from the 2 and kicked the extra point to put the Rams up 28-0.As much as losing Kellogg hurt the Rams, much of the change in fortune had to do with Decatur's ball control. The Gators ran just five plays in the second quarter, but 14 in the third.Decatur used 12 plays to march 64 yards on their first drive of the second half. Waltos hit Doherty for a 9-yard touchdown to finally put the Gators on the scoreboard with 4:49 left in the third quarter.The Decatur defense stepped up as well, when Whitney Faber sacked Rogers backup quarterback Jason Funk for a 13-yard loss. Darrell Beilke then returned a Rams punt 29 yards.The Gators needed just two plays to score on their next drive. Glover carried the ball in from 28 yards out with 1:52 left in the third quarter. Decatur scored its third consecutive touchdown on its next drive. Waltos sparked the offense with runs of 19, 11 and eight yards before scoring from two yards out. The Decatur defense came up big again with just under three minutes left in the game. J.C. Ronnfeldt tackled Chris Anderson for no gain on a fourth-and-five at the 39-yard line.It was tough one. They were pushing us around, said Decatur lineman Mike Wheeler. We just sucked it up and did what we had to do. "