With just one second left in the game, Alexander trailed 19-14 and had one more shot at the end zone to try to get the win.
Following a Belpre penalty, the ball was moved to midfield, and the Spartans needed 50 yards to secure their second win of the season.
They trailed 19-7 with only two minutes left, and being in this position seemed improbable. But Alexander forced a couple of fumbles, one of which resulted in a score, and a big three-and-out to give itself one shot at the end zone.
The Alexander fans knew it, too. The Spartan faithful started getting on their feet. The sideline did their best to pump up the fans for the final play of the game and the last home possession of the season.
The Spartans began to feed off the energy and looked to make the improbable a reality.
Jordan Schulz got the snapped and tried to look downfield for the home run play, but only saw intense pressure in his face.
The Golden Eagles’ pass rush was too much and secured a sack to seal the victory for Belpre.
The 19-14 loss is the second game in a row where Alexander (1-6, 1-4, Tri-Valley Conference-Ohio) found itself in a position to win the game, thanks to the defense. Without those clutch stops toward the end of the final quarter, the Spartans wouldn’t have even had a chance to beat Belpre (3-4, 2-3 Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking), and coach Earich Dean knows it.
“Our backs were against the wall,” Dean said. “We had some breakdowns here and there, but overall, the defense’s play was excellent.”
The defense has forced the opposing offense into a lot of mistakes in the past couple of weeks, creating seven turnovers in the last two games.
Once again, though, the story remains that the Alexander offense has been unable to match the energy of the defense. The Spartans made it close at the end, but before the final three minutes, they continued their struggles to create anything offensively.
For Dean, he needs them to grow past the sloppy mistakes that have plagued this season if they are going to have a chance to be contenders next year.
“As an offense, we have to be able to help keep the defense off the field,” Dean said. “We’re young at every position, and we’ve had some growing pains this season.”
Despite the obvious growing pains, Alexander found its ability to fight back into the game and did not roll over and lose down the stretch. It wasn’t enough to get the win, but it showed the Spartans had heart, and that’s what Dean’s been looking for all season.
That, combined with it being the last game played at Alexander Spartan Stadium in 2020, created an energy on the sideline that helped them get back into it.
“This was our last game on this field,” Dean said. “We knew that if we were going to get a chance to come back in this game, we were going to have to give it all right there at the end.”