ALLEMAN — Friday’s non-district football game between Perry and host North Polk turned into a pick-you-cliche thriller. Shootout. Slugest. Donnybrook. Pier 6’er. Last Man Standing.
The two teams traded blows throughout the contest, but it was the Bluejays (1-0) who proved to have the tougher chin, turning back the Comets (1-1) on downs in the second overtime to preserve the victory.
North Polk, who had played an early season opener last week, defeating Roland-Story, 14-6, held a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter when Perry’s Mana Martinez intercepted a pass on the Comet 36-yard line.
Perry stormed to the six-yard line in five plays, with quarterback Alexis Garrido stepping free off left tackle and striding into the end zone with 1:50 to play.
Kicker German Alvarenga’s clutch extra-point boot tied the score, forcing overtime. Alvarenga hit all five of his extra-point tries, including nerve-wracking boots to tie the game, to tie the first overtime and to give Perry a seven-point lead in the second extra period. He also banged a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter, all six place kicks sailing clearing down the middle.
IHSAA rules dictate each team receives a possession on the 10-yard line in overtime, with the game played until a winner is decided.
North Polk went on offense first, with Mason Russell blowing through a missed assignment on the left side to stride in from 10 yards out for a 30-24 Comet lead, with Collin Swygman’s PAT pushing the score to 31-24.
Perry answered on their third play, with Garrido drilling a four-yard TD pass to Brandon Kenyon, who then served — as he did throughout the game — as the holder for Alvarenga’s PAT that tied the score. Kade Killmer is Perry’s long snapper.
For the second overtime Perry had the ball first, but two running plays lost two yards, setting up third-and-goal from the 12. Garrido found Reece Dunlap over the middle, hitting the speedster crossing the field in stride at the three, with Dunlap striding into the black paint for a 37-31 lead. Alvarenga made it 38-31 moments later, setting up the final drama.
The Comets, facing third-and-goal at the eight, went back to a play that had worked several times, handing off to Russell to the left. This time the Bluejay defense sniffed out the misdirection and swarmed Russell for no gain.
An incomplete pass on fourth down ended the game, sending Bluejay players streaming onto the field in celebration.
Perry held a 7-0 lead after one quarter, scoring on a Mark Campos two-yard run. Campos ran hard for most of the game and played well at linebacker, but missed most of the fourth quarter as one of several Jays fighting off cramps. He finished with 89 yards on 18 carries with one score and had six tackles on defense, including three for negative yards.
Dunlap showed why he is one of the most dangerous weapons in 3A by running free and pulling in a 55-yard Garrido aerial for a TD on the first play of the second quarter.
Russell answered immediately, bursting 60 yards for a score 16 seconds later, with a Jeff Lamp run moving the score to 14-8.
Alvarenga’s field goal made it 17-8 in favor of Perry, but Tyler Sinclair returned an interception 51 yards for a North Polk score, with Swygman’s PAT cutting the deficit to 17-15 for the hosts. Swygman missed a 28-yard as time expired in the half, leaving Perry with the lead.
A 22-yard Swygman field goal and 28-yard TD catch from Sully Hartsook put the Comets into a 24-17 lead late in the third quarter, but North Polk opted to run for two points, leaving Perry in striking range when Lamp was stuffed at the line.
Garrido finished 15-of-26 for 184 yards and three scores, offsetting two interceptions and a lost fumble. He ran for 33 yards and a score on 11 carries and was vocal and positive on the sidelines from the opening minutes, constantly encouraging his offensive line and other teammates.
Dunlap pulled in eight passes for 118 yards and two scores, with Kenyon scoring once and gaining 66 yards on seven receptions. Donald Chavez had 15 rushing yards on 10 carries, with Dunlap sprinting for 42 yards on six hauls.
Conner Kenyon’s eight tackles led the defense, with Chavez adding six stops and Justin Stammer and Martinez five each. Martinez and Dunlap each had interceptions, with Killmer and Ethan McFarland recovering fumbles while Michael Meyer recorded a sack.
Parkens was 12-28-2 for 163 and one TD and carried seven times for no yards for North Polk. Ryan Fausch (5-68), Quentin Sommers (3-32), Sinclair (3-35) and Hartsook (1-28, 1 TD) caught Comet passes.
Russell finished with 125 yards and two scores on 21 carries, with Lamp rushing five times for 29 yards.
Sinclair led the Comet defense with 10 tackles and two interceptions, including the 51-yard pick-six. Alec Balletta recovered a fumble for the hosts.
Perry will visit Nevada Friday. The Cubs did not play yesterday after scoring a 14-13 win at West Marshall August 18. The Bluejays were 21-14 winners at Dewey Field last year, with Martinez batting away a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game.