By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – Even having seeing his team fall victim to several critical mistakes in the first two quarters, Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger was confident his team was doing the right things to put away East Webster Friday night in Cumberland.
Though the Indians sported just a one-point lead at halftime, Dillinger's willingness to stay the course helped Ackerman pull away in the second half on the way to a 35-19 win.
"We just kept playing hard," said Dillinger. "In the first half, we had some miscues that set (East Webster) up, but we just kept playing hard. We came out in the second half, ran the ball a lot better, took what we could get, made some big plays and answered the bell."
Ackerman (4-3 overall, 1-0 in Class 2A, Region 2) outscored East Webster 21-6 over the third and fourth quarters to hold off the scrappy Wolverines.
This came after a back-and-forth first half full of momentum swings.
Arguably no play was bigger however than an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ackerman's Quinton Lane that put the Indians up 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
Lane's return came just seconds after the Wolverines (3-4 overall, 0-1 in Class 2A, Region 2) had been given a spark when Brennan Sparks returned a blocked punt 37 yards for a score.
The emotional surge provided by Sparks' touchdown was nullified though thanks to Lane's big return.
"(East Webster) had just made a big play so we had to return that to them," said Lane. "(On the return), it was there from the start. I just had to hit (the hole) and make a big play."
East Webster head coach Doug Wilson said Lane's touchdown put the Wolverines back on their heels a bit.
"That really hurt us," said Wilson. "We didn't intend to kick to him, but a chip shot kind of got away from us a little bit. That's just part of it. (Lane) made a great play."
After Lane's score, Ackerman never trailed again.
Much of that could be contributed to an Indians defense that limited the Wolverines to just 90 total offensive yards.
Most of East Webster's offense came courtesy of Darius Dear. Dear ran for 23 yards, had 25 yards receiving and scored two total touchdowns.
Yet Dear's performance wasn't enough to turn away the resilient Indians.
Ackerman quarterback Dakota Brasher, who guided an Indians offense that compiled just 207 total yards themselves, said even though his club came out with a win, East Webster deserved a lot of credit.
"They're a good football team," said Brasher of the Wolverines. "Yeah, they lost a lot of seniors from last year, but they came out and played hard. First half, they hung with us, but second half, we came out and moved the ball like we knew we could and it started clicking for us from then on out."