(Chelsea Update would like to thank Chelsea resident Amy Whitesall for covering this game.)
The Chelsea football team never trailed in its 31-28 win over Tecumseh Friday, but the Indians – who came into the game undefeated – played like a team that wanted to stay that way.
With just over a minute left in the game and a first down at the Chelsea 15 yard line, the Indians seemed poised to spoil Chelsea’s homecoming. But a penalty backed them up to the Chelsea 26, and in the game’s final minute, the Bulldog defense decided the Indians were done for the night.
On second down, Chelsea safety Alex Maloney broke up a Tecumseh pass at the goal line. On third down, Tecumseh quarterback Ben Dreslinski tossed a screen pass to running back John Terry, who was promptly laid out on the turf for almost no gain by Chelsea linebacker Michael Hovater.
And on fourth down, Maloney leaped into the air and picked off Dreslinski’s last-ditch pass, hugging it to his chest as he came down in the end zone for a touchback.
“He’s been a good safety all year,” said Chelsea coach Brad Bush. “He’s got great ball skills and he’s a tremendous athlete. That’s why he’s back there.
“It was a great win,” Bush said. “That’s a very good football team, and we made just one more play than they did, really.”
The Bulldogs improve to 4-3 (4-1 SEC), but it took everyone to get there.
Chelsea tailback Berkley Edwards rushed for 234 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown run and a 65-yard dash down the sideline that set up another touchdown. Halfback Colton Platt rushed for 54 yards and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Koseck after slipping out into the open on a reverse.
Linebacker Tyler Fullerton scooped up a fumbled kick return at the Tecumseh 18-yard line and ran it into the end zone, giving the Bulldogs a special teams’ touchdown and an early 14-0 lead.
Despite intermittent driving rain, Tecumseh (6-1, 4-1 SEC) did its offensive damage through the air, fighting off Chelsea’s efforts to put the game away. Dreslinski, who Bush calls one of the best quarterbacks in the state, completed 17-of-30 attempts for 270 yards.
But he couldn’t connect on the one the Indians needed most.
Hovater led Chelsea with nine tackles. Defensive linemen Ricky Kolman (7 tackles) Jay Szcodronski (six tackles) and Michael Steinhauer (five tackles) each recorded a sack.
“We said all week we needed to get them into the fourth quarter because they hadn’t been (challenged) there, but obviously they responded,” Bush said.
The homecoming victory, which keeps the Bulldogs’ hopes of another playoff berth alive, capped a week when Chelsea’s freshman and JV football teams also beat previously-undefeated Tecumseh squads.
“I couldn’t be more proud, not just of our team, but of the whole program,” Bush said. “I just feel like our guys have competed like champions, and I’m really proud of them.”