Especially the Eureka Loggers.
In a game that was only scheduled two days ago after South Fork had to pull out of the weekend action, the Loggers and Arcata Tigers served up an instant classic.
And in the end it took almost three hours, two overtime possessions and a fake play on the final snap of the ball to separate the two teams, with the Loggers sneaking a 36-34 victory.
“That was a pretty amazing game,” Eureka head coach Andrew Haraldson said. “It was quite a way to kick things off for us.”
It was a difficult loss for the Tigers, who played exceptionally well on the offensive side of the ball and matched the bigger school stride for stride all night, even leading for much of the game.
“That was a tough one,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said. “We battled. They’re big and they have more depth, but we don’t make excuses. They made one more play than we did and they won the game.”
Eureka senior Hayden Bode capped an outstanding night when he ran in for the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime on a fake PAT.
With sophomore starter Hans Chalmers limited because of a shoulder injury, Bode got the nod at quarterback, and the senior led a relentless Loggers running game, while also making play after play at safety.
Check out Rogan Bode’s game-tying TD run in overtime
Both offenses had their way most of the night and were able to sustain long drives, although the Eureka defense tightened up at crucial times in the second half, including a last-minute stand inside their own 10.
The Loggers opened the scoring on their second possession of the game on a nine-yard TD run by Kayro Jimenez.
The Tigers answered right back, however, when quarterback Shane Purcell found receiver Alex Jioras on a 25-yard TD pass.
Purcell was impressive throughout, getting plenty of time to throw the ball behind a very good offensive line and utilizing a deep pool of receivers, all of whom showed up.
“He’s come a long ways,” Jones said of Purcell. “He still has a lot to learn, but tonight he showed what hard work can do.”
The quarterback was involved in all four of Arcata’s TDs in regulation, throwing for three in the first half and scoring on a QB sneak in the second half.
After Jioras added a second TD catch, this one from 14 yards out, Dylan Kile then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to give Arcata possession again at the Eureka 35.
Moments later, Purcell threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Carson Tucker and the Tigers led 22-15 at halftime.
Keeb Her had a big game for the Loggers, scoring on a pair of runs in either half, one from one yard out and the other from seven.
Her’s second TD came midway through the third quarter and pulled the Loggers within one point of the Tigers, who again answered immediately, driving the length of the field and scoring on Purcell’s sneak.
Not to be outdone, the Loggers then drove the length of the field to tie the game at 28-28 on a three-yard Brandon Racines TD run.
“It was definitely running back by committee,” Haraldson said. “It was everyone. Everyone that was in there, they got the job done.”
So too did the Loggers offensive line, which included Shyloh Nicholson, Carlos Duenas, Jamin Guilbert, Sky Barone, Joseph Gonzalez and Isaac Lamb, the latter of whom was team captain for the game.
The Tigers had a chance to win the game late in the fourth after driving from their own 20 all the way to the Eureka nine-yard line, but the Loggers defense came up big when it needed to the most, with a big fourth-down stop.
Hayden Bode’s younger brother, Rogan, also had a big night running the ball for the Loggers, scoring the game-tying TD in OT on a 24-yard run after Mason Nichols had scored on a two-yard run on Arcata’s opening possession of overtime.
Arcata, however, missed on a two-point conversion pass attempt, meaning Eureka just needed the PAT on Rogan Bode’s TD to win the game.
When they lined up for the PAT, however, the were called for a delay of game penalty, pushing them farther back.
Despite not playing QB, Chalmers had a big impact at cornerback, breaking up a pair of passes to Jioras in the end zone late in the first half, as well as coming away with a huge second-half interception.
Eureka’s Magnum West and Brayden Youkey each also played well at tight end, with West making some big plays on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“I’m really, really proud of my kids’ effort and how they hung in there,” Haraldson said. “And hat’s off to Arcata. They executed their game plan very well. Their kids played really hard.
“I was super proud of Humboldt County. There was great sportsmanship from both sides. There were players going down with cramps and players from the other team helping them out. I’ve never seen that before.”
The Arcata offensive line also had a big night, with Robbie Dieker, Jack Baca, Teagan Hesseltine, Tucker Rice and Austin Mitchell giving Purcell a lot of time to pass the ball.
So too did a number of the Arcata receivers in addition to Jioras and Tucker, including Oscar Carlson, Wiyott Tierney and Ty Franklin.
“How about that O line play?” Jones said. “Our O line kept Shane clean all night, and we probably threw the ball 40 times.
“It was a hell of a game. Going to overtime, Eureka, Arcata, that’s what it’s all about.”
The win was the first for Haraldson as a head coach.