Two-day game ends in disappointment
The varsity game came down to one play, the kickoff return at the start of the second half, according to Orion coach Jason VanHoutte.
“Right now, the kids don’t think special teams are important,” he said. “We’ve had trouble getting the kids to take it seriously. They’ll believe it now.”
With his team down by two touchdowns at intermission, Bomber Matthew Gordy returned the second-half kickoff 91 yards to the end zone. He then caught a pass from Kendall Hocker for two more points.
Macomb ultimately won the Olympic Conference game 20-14.
Playing on the Bomber field on Friday night, Sept. 12, the Chargers took a 6-0 lead on Matt Knoll’s 17-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds to go in the first quarter. The Bombers blocked the point-after kick.
After only two snaps in the second quarter, lightning forced game officials to send players into the locker rooms and urge fans to seek shelter. Almost an hour and a half later, the game was suspended.
When play resumed at noon on Saturday, Sept. 13, the Chargers continued to dominate the Bombers.
Knoll scored, again with 37 seconds to go in the quarter, on a three-yard run.
On the two-point attempt, Tyler DeDecker caught a pass from Josh Hutton to give Orion a 14-0 lead.
Gordy’s kickoff return fired up the Bombers, who were well aware for the last two years the winner of the Orion-Macomb game has gone on to claim the conference championship.
Macomb’s Austin Sears scored from one yard out to tie the game with 8:55 to go in the fourth quarter. On the extra-point attempt, the snap was low and the kick skittered along the ground.
As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, the game appeared to be headed into overtime.
A punt gave the Bombers possession on their own 25 with 54 seconds on the clock.
Twice Hocker dropped back to pass, only to have the Chargers pressure him into running instead.
On the first play of the drive, he gained 32 yards before Hutton knocked him out of bounds at the Orion 43.
On the next play, Hocker took off to the right, then cut back all the way across the field. He reached the 10 before Knoll dropped him.
With the clock showing 7.7 seconds, Hocker passed to Gordy for six points. The two-point run failed.
On the kickoff, Macomb kept the ball low to limit Orion’s ability to run it back for a touchdown. The football bounced off a Charger and the Bombers recovered it.
Orion had 14 first downs in the opening half, while holding Macomb to four.
It was just the opposite in the second half, when Orion had two first downs and Macomb 10.
After taking the opening kickoff, the Chargers drove to the Bomber 30 before turning the ball over on downs.
During the possession, Orion could not pick up any yardage on four consecutive first-down plays.
The defense forced Macomb to go three-and-out at midfield. On second down, Ian Cooper caught the runner in the backfield for a one-yard loss.
Getting the ball back with 4:41 to go in the first quarter, the Chargers marched 80 yards for their first touchdown.
Kennen Hutchison ripped off two five-yard runs, and Evan Viager raced 18 yards to midfield.
Hutchison then scampered 15 yards to the Macomb 40. After a timeout, he picked up 10 more yards on the left side.
A flag for encroachment gave Orion five more yards to the Macomb 23. Hutchison went up the left side for six yards.
Knoll scored from 17 yards out.
The Bombers ran off four plays before officials saw lightning at 8:14 p.m. Every new stroke of lightning resulted in a 30-minute delay, and at 9:38 p.m. word reached the press box that the game would have to be postponed until the next day.
Play resumed with the Bombers on their own 34. They marched to the Charger 33 before turning the ball over on downs.
During the drive, Brad Walker twice tripped up the runner, and Cooper and Mitchel White stopped a runner for no gain.
The Chargers started their next drive 70 yards from paydirt.
Going off tackle to the left, Hutchison gained 14 yards to the 50.
Knoll picked up three yards on a counter and Hutchison six yards up the middle.
Facing fourth-and-inches at the Macomb 40, Hutton handed off to Hutchison, who got a big hole from the offensive line and gained five yards.
From 37 yards out, Hutton fired a deep pass that was picked off at the Macomb 10. But a pass interference penalty gave Orion the ball back at the 23.
Hutchison rtan for eight yards and Knoll for five.
Walker went up the middle for seven yards, and Knoll found room on the right side to score.
In the second half, the Chargers had the ball four times.
On the first drive, a pair of five-yard penalties and a tackle for a loss meant Orion gained only one yard in nine trips to the line of scrimmage.
Facing fourth-and-21, the Chargers had to punt from their own 34.
The next drive went backwards 12 yards and ended in a punt. On the third drive, a 10-yard sack on first down, a two-yard loss on second down and an incomplete pass on third down forced the Chargers to punt from their own 18.
Orion’s final drive gained 35 yards before ending in a punt.
Orion produced 197 yards of total offense to 227 yards for Macomb.
The Chargers picked up 179 yards on 45 rushes, while the Bombers gained 192
yards on 40 attempts.
Hutchison rushed for 88 yards on 15 tries; Knoll, 55 yards on 18 plays; Viager, 18 yards on two runs; Walker, 15 yards on four carries; and Hutton, three yards on six snaps.
In the air, Orion gained 18 yards on three catches and Macomb 35 yards on three completions.
Cooper snagged two passes for 12 yards and Knoll, one for six.
Hutton connected on three of eight passes and Macomb throwers on three of five.
The most remarkable statistic from the game might be that despite playing in rain and mud, neither team had a turnover.
Knoll recovered an offensive fumble.
The Chargers had four tackles-for-losses. Cooper notched two for minus two yards; Cody Williams, one for minus one; and White, one for minus one.
Meanwhile, the Bombers had five tackles for minus 19 yards, including a pair of sacks.
Orion drew two flags for 10 yards and Macomb, three for 20.
On Friday, Sept. 19, the Chargers play their final non-conference game of the season. Orion hits the road for a 6 p.m. kickoff with Carmi-White County at McKendree College in Lebanon, east of St. Louis.