Chargers win thriller over Cougars in district opener

Bell kicks game winner as clock hits 0:00

Boerne Champion only held the lead one time in Thursday’s district opener at BISD Stadium when the Chargers hosted New Braunfels Canyon.

It came at the very end of the game when Champion kicker Nathan Bell knocked in the game-winning field goal with no time on the clock to clinch the 34-31 victory over the Cougars.

The Chargers scored the final 20 points of the game and outscored the Cougars in the fourth quarter, 17-0.

Champion coach Blane Ellis said he didn’t care that they trailed the entire game and only took the lead on the final play of the contest.

“That’s all that matters,” he said. “It’s a great program win for us and it helps our confidence moving forward in district and I believe our kids are going to play with a lot of confidence and a lot of belief that it can be done.”

Bell’s kick keeps the Chargers perfect at 4-0 and helps them start district play at 1-0. Champion visits Buda Hays Friday as they continue 12-5A DI action.

The Cougars had a fast start in Thursday’s game and jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Champion outscored NB Canyon in the second stanza, 14-10, but the Cougars still managed to take a 10-point lead into halftime.

Champion’s Cole Riha capped their first scoring drive early in the second on a 3-yard run and then later in the quarter, Ethan McVeigh hauled in a 19-yard pass from Jordan Ballin. Bell converted both extra points and NB Canyon was up 24-14 at the break.

Once the third quarter started, the Cougars took the second-half kickoff and marched 55 yards on 8 plays and scored on a 6-yard pass from Reece Deitrick to Daniel Inman and the Cougars’ lead swelled to 17 points at 31-14 with 9:04 left in the third, that’s when the comeback started.

Ellis said first they to slow down the Cougars offense and they did. the Deitrick to Inman TD pass, the Champion defense forced punts the next four NBC possessions and then Sawyer Bolli picked off a pass on NB Canyon’s last drive of the game to set up the game-winning field goal.

Star photo by Chris Tilton Sawyer Bolli

(15) hauls in a touchdown pass late in the game that tied the contest. Bolli later had an interception that set up the game-winning score.

“We gave up that touchdown early in the third but we did a great job of making stops when we needed to,” Ellis said. “We made some changes up front defensively, it allowed us to get guys in throwing windows and we started to move some guys around and created confusion at the line of scrimmage. Once we did that, they really struggled offensively.”

With the Cougars’ offense in check, the Champion offense made its move. On its next drive of the third quarter the Chargers moved the ball to the NBC 19-yard line and Bell booted a 36-yard field goal to cut into the lead at 31-17 with 5:44 left in the period.

On that drive, Ballin scrambled 36 yards on 3rd and 10 to keep the drive alive and moved the Chargers into Cougars territory.

“(Ballin) was tremendous, he really kind of said, ‘Hey, I’m going to put this thing on my shoulders’ and he had some amazing runs that extended drives,” Ellis said. “It’s fun to watch him and the passion he plays with.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Ballin capped a short drive with another score after a nice Bolli punt return set up the Chargers at the Cougars 32.

Five plays later, Ballin scooted into the end zone from the 8-yard line on 3rd and 7 and the Bell PAT made it 31-24 with 11:06 on the clock.

After a 3-and-out by the Cougars on their next drive, the Chargers moved the ball 74 yards on 11 plays before Ballin found Bolli in the corner of the end zone to finish the drive. The Bell kick tied it at 31-31 with 4:58 left.

Both teams punted on their next possessions but for the Cougars it was their fourth straight punt. After a Chargers punt, NB Canyon took over at their own 13 with 2:19 remaining.

On 3rd and 15, NB Canyon took a shot down the field and the pass was intercepted by Bolli at the 50-yard line with 2:00 left to work with.

“It was third and long and I figured they were going to take a shot deep,” Bolli said. “I just pretty much ran the route for the receiver and made a good catch, I guess.”

Riha ripped off a couple of nice runs for the Chargers and gave them a 1st and 10 at the Cougars 19. They faced a 3rd and 7 with 21 seconds, but Ellis decided to let the clock run down and call a timeout with just 2 seconds left instead of running another play.

That’s when Bell trotted out and knocked home the game winner.

NBC called a timeout to try and ice Bell but Ellis said they just approached it like any other kick.

“We didn’t over talk it and treated it as normal. We knew they were going to try to ice him,” the coach said. “I just said, ‘we’re going to go kick it’ and he did a tremendous job.”

Bolli said he never sweated the outcome.

“At halftime we had no doubt we were going to come back,” he said, “we just all played for each other and got the win.”

Sawyer Bolli (15) hauls in a touchdown pass late in the game that tied the contest. Bolli later had an interception that set up the game-winning score. </br> Star photo by Chris Tilton

Sawyer Bolli (15) hauls in a touchdown pass late in the game that tied the contest. Bolli later had an interception that set up the game-winning score. </br> Star photo by Chris Tilton


Boerne Star