Alma breaks halftime tie to secure coach's 100th win.
Alma head coach Doug Loughridge earned his 100th career coaching career on Tuesday night, but it’s the number one as in 1-0 that counts for the Airedales.
Alma defeated Crawford County rival Van Buren for the seven straight seasons on Tuesday night with a 21-14 win at Blakemore Field at Citizens Bank Stadium.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for a little bit,” Loughridge said. “It’s fun. It’s a neat deal, but this would have never happened if not for great assistant coaches at Charleston and Alma and great players.”
Tuesday, Alma quarterback Garrison Jensen spearheaded the Airedales’ offense with three touchdown passes, including 14-of-25 passes. He ran 17 times for 148 yards.
“Jensen told me the other day that he wanted to be the one to get the 100th,” Loughridge said. “I said I remember the quarterback that got me the first one and I’ll sure danged remember the one that got the 100th one.”
Knotted at 7-7 at the half, Alma scored on consecutive series in the second half.
After Alma’s defense stopped Van Buren on fourth down at the 16, Alma went 84 yards on only six plays.
Jensen sparked the possession with a 51-yard jaunt, breaking several tackles, to the 5. Two plays later, he hit Brayden Johnson with a 4-yard bullet for the score. Aidan Walker converted the second of his three extra points with 2:53 left in the third quarter for a 14-7 lead.
Van Buren threatened again, and again Alma’s thwarted the Pointers when Johnson intercepted a third-down pass in the end zone.
Alma’s offense went 80 yards in just seven plays sparked by a 34-yard connection from Jensen to sophomore Grayson Bailey, who made an acrobatic catch off the defender’s helmet. After an incomplete pass, Josh Davis gained 11 yards, Jensen ran for 15 to Van Buren’s 14. Then under pressure, Jensen lofted a pass to Bailey in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown with 9:38 left.
Van Buren threatened again late when Dylan Dye returned a shanked punt 33 yards for a touchdown 2:07. Van Buren almost recovered an on-side kick, but a yard short of the necessary 10 yards.
Alma ran out the clock.
“The hardest one to get sometimes is the first one and I didn’t know if we were going to get it after that first half,” Loughridge said. “I love how our coaches went in at halftime and made adjustments, and challenged our kids. Our kids came over a whole ton of adversity. Our kids never gave up and fought to the end.”
Van Buren took a 7-0 lead with 42 seconds left in the opening quarter on a 2-yard run by Walker Green.
Alma tied the game, answering on the next drive when Jensen lobbed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 7:48 left in the second quarter.
Green led Van Buren with 27 carries for 147 yards.
VAN BUREN 14
Summary – The Alma Airedale won their seventh straight over Van Buren in the 71st edition of the Battle of Crawford and also earned head coach Doug Loughridge his 100th career coaching victory
Turning point – Alma scored on consecutive possessions in the second half to open up a 21-7 lead and go on to the win
Stat – Alma’s defense halted Van Buren on three straight key possessions in the second half, including two on downs and another on an interception in the end zone
ALMA 21, VAN BUREN 14
Score by quarters
Alma 0 7 7 7 - 21
Van Buren 7 0 0 7 - 14
Van – Green 2 run (Recinos kick), 0:42
Alma – Johnson 4 pass from Jensen (Walker kick), 7:48
Alma – Johnson 4 pass from Jensen (Walker kick), 2:53
Alma – Bailey 14 pass from Jensen (Walker kick), 9:38
Van – Dye 33 punt return (Recinos kick), 2:07