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Grizzlies’ season, Morrell’s career alive after victory
by Michael Foster
nside@neighbornewspapers.com
November 13, 2012 03:58 PM | 1575 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With just 2:18 left in Friday’s Region 7AAAAA play-in game at Riverwood, it appeared that Creekview coach Al Morrell was about to face a heartbreaking goodbye to his coaching career.

Riverwood’s Buck Woodcox found the end zone from a foot out, giving the Raiders a 21-14 lead, and leaving the Grizzlies in comeback mode.

Creekview turned the tide, however, with an impressive drive from senior quarterback Hayden Hall that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown reception by Chandler Wold to send the game into overtime.

The Grizzlies eventually won after three extra periods, 36-28, extending its season — and Morrell’s tenure — as a No. 2 seed for the state playoffs.

“Man, I’m so happy for these seniors. I’m so happy for this football team and for our fans. It’s a huge relief,” Morrell said. “It was a dogfight, and I give a lot of credit to that other football team. They were 6-3, and they had us on the ropes.”

The Grizzlies (9-1) held themselves back all game, eventually allowing Riverwood’s offense to catch fire and take a lead late in the fourth quarter. Riverwood was outgained in first downs 19-5, but it held its own and blocked two first-half field goals to stay in the game.

“We actually moved the ball fairly consistent in the first half,” Morrell said. “We just couldn’t punch it in the end zone.”

Things looked good early for the Grizzlies, as a seamless drive was finished off by a 36-yard touchdown scamper from Wold put Creekview up 7-0 with 2:44 left in the first quarter.

Riverwood responded a minute later with an improbable touchdown.

Receiver Andrew Battle happened to be standing in the right place at the right time as a Grant Drakefore pass was dropped by receiver Jonathan Goodson and tipped into his hands by a Grizzly defender. Battle proceeded to take off and elude two defenders for a 68-yard touchdown.

Creekview made noise with its offense in the half, as disconnects on open deep balls were left on the field.

Receivers Hunter Udall and Connor Dulmage both were questionable before the game with injuries, but they came through when the game mattered, finishing with 105 and 68 yards, respectively.

It was the Hall-Udall connection that continued hope for the Grizzlies with just 15 seconds remaining. On third-and-26, Hall found Udall on a quick, skinny post that turned into a 31-yard gain to the Riverwood 5-yard line.

On the very next play, Hall rolled right and found Wold on an out-route for the tying touchdown.

Wold finished the game with 108 yards rushing on 22 carries, 46 receiving yards on five catches and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score from 2 yards out in the third overtime.

“It was exciting,” Wold said. “We talked to our quarterback and told him to just bring us through.”

Wold also caught the 2-point conversion in the third overtime period to give the Grizzlies a lead they did not relinquish.

On fourth-and-6 of Riverwood’s final overtime possession, Goodson hauled in a what appeared to be a touchdown, but the throw was too far out of the back of the end zone. Creekview’s players knew it immediately and burst onto the field in celebration.

“I give God the glory, and I’m just thankful to be able to coach one more week,” Morrell said.

With the victory, Morrell will return home for at least one more game in front of the Creekview fans as the Grizzlies will host a first-round playoff game against the No. 3 seed of Region 6AAAAA.

It will be the first home playoff game for the program, which saw its first two postseason appearances come on the road in 2008 and ’09.
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