Summit snaps five-game losing streak with two-touchdown effort against Sheridan
FARMER’S KORNER – The Summit High School football team coupled its staunch defense with a slight offensive revival Friday night, and it returned to the win column for the first time since the Aug. 30 season opener.
Quarterback Ryan Clift connected with Jeff Lunceford on an 86-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to lift Summit to a 14-8 win over Sheridan. It was part of a comeback that began with an 8-0 deficit going into halftime.
“Not many teams can go four games without scoring and five straight losses and be down 8-0 at halftime and come out and find it,” said Summit coach Rob Royer. “These kids have big hearts, and that’s why we won this football game.”
Finding themselves in a new position – protecting a lead in the fourth quarter – an old turnover problem reared its head. A Clift fumble gave the Rams the ball on the Summit 12-yard line.
But Summit’s defense did what it’s been doing all year and came up with an enormous goal-line stand, stuffing a quarterback sneak on fourth and two at the 5.
“The defense has played hard all year,” Royer said. “The kids have been able to find that extra strength on goal lines.”
From there, the Tigers used a resuscitated running game to grind out the final four minutes, eventually taking a knee at the Sheridan 30.
“Everybody really wanted it,” said Summit cornerback/receiver John Wheeler. “We talked about it at halftime, and we all decided to come out here and be a family and step it up, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Summit was successful running behind the right side of its offensive line. Preston Johnson used his blockers wisely as he piled up yards on a series of right sweeps. The former QB finished with 138 yards on the ground. Also, Jack St. John rushed for 60, and Mike Allard had some success from the wing-back spot.
The biggest runs came on the Tigers’ second drive after halftime. Johnson turned a third and 25 into a first down with a 40-yard pickup. Only a shoe-string tackle by Sheridan’s Dustin Slewitzke prevented a touchdown. Two, plays later, on the same right sweep, Johnson scored from 19 yards out, diving for the goal line and the equalizing score.
But a failed two-point attempt left Summit down 8-6.
The drive was set up by the Summit defense’s move to a blitzing attack on the Rams’ potent passing game. Linebackers St. John and John Rutter were sent to disrupt Sheridan quarterback Darin Donaho’s timing with his favorite receiver, Jim Martinez. The strategy yielded two sacks and a second-half shutout.
“Their passing game in the first half was pretty effective,” Royer said. “And we thought if we could get some more pressure on the quarterback and rattle him a little bit, it would take him out of his game, and it did.”
Donoho threw for 64 yards in the first half, 58 of them to Martinez. Most came on the Rams’ scoring drive, which was capped by a 1-yard sneak by Donoho just before the half. The rest of the game the Donoho-Martinez connection was stymied. Much of it had to do with Wheeler, who defended Martinez one-on-one and rarely lost a step to him.
“He’s real quick, but I stepped it up and stuck with him,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler had a chance to give Summit the lead in the third quarter, but his 37-yard field goal attempt went wide. He made up for it, though, on the game-winning touchdown by springing Lunceford with a downfield block after running his pass route.
“That’s the part of the game people don’t get credit for,” Royer said. “Wheeler didn’t get the ball, but he hustled downfield and made that block for a touchdown.
“Now we’re finally starting to realize that every play you have to go hard, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
In his second game at quarterback, Clift was 6-for-11 for 124 yards and one interception.
Summit (2-5) continues its tour of the lower Metro League teams when it travels to Mountain Vista for a Thursday night game. Mountain Vista (0-7) is a new school, playing with only freshmen and sophomores.
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