Gage Bumgardner shines with five touchdowns, three in the air

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Senior running back Brennan Norton charges into the end zone during the third overtime of St. Helens' thrilling victory over Cleveland on Friday, Aug. 30. Norton had a pair of touchdowns in the game, one on the ground and one through the air. They say that good things don’t come easily, and in St. Helens’ case, that was certainly true on Friday night. In a game for the ages, the Lions outlasted Cleveland in five overtimes to take home a thrilling 49-41 victory to start their season.

A marathon of games, the teams combined for well over 200 plays, the coaching staff from Cleveland estimating that junior quarterback Scott Brant threw for nearly 70 by himself. Brant combined with star receiver Jonathan Weaver for four of his five touchdown passes, while Lion’s quarterback Gage Bumgardner passed for two and ran for three touchdowns in career nights for both players.

A scoreless first quarter saw the Lions miss out on a pair of touchdowns - a run to the sideline by G. Bumgardner that was incorrectly placed at the one yard line and another zigzag from Bumgardner up the middle that was called back for holding. St. Helens finally hit paydirt with just under ten minutes to play in the second quarter. Facing 4th and 2, Tanner Long broke through the defense and sprinted 26 yards to the end zone. Jacob Zartman ran in the two point conversion, and the Lions led 8-0.

Cleveland answered as Brant hit Weaver, who fought off a pair of defensive backs and raced down the sideline for a 70 yard touchdown. The resulting two point conversion failed, leaving the Lions in the lead 8-6 with 3:37 to play in the second quarter.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Quarterback Gage Bumgardner follows a blocker in the second half of St. Helen's 5OT win on Friday, Aug. 30. Bumgardner threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more.That’s where things fell apart for the Lions. Cleveland came with the onside kick, and though a St. Helens player had a hand on the ball in the air, the Warriors were able to recover the football and score, a four yard touchdown pass from Brant to junior receiver Robert Bergin.

Cleveland led St. Helens by a halftime score of 13-8.

The second half didn’t start well for the Lions either. On the first play of the half, a high snap went over Bumgardner’s outstretched hands and was recovered by the Warriors. However, the defense stepped up and stopped Cleveland in their tracks, forcing a field goal which was low.

On the resulting possession, St. Helens came roaring back as Bumgardner found Brennan Norton for his first touchdown of the evening, a 32 yard sprint to the house to put the Lions back on top 14-13 after a failed two point conversion.

The fourth quarter was where things started to heat up. Bumgardner ran in a touchdown from four yards out to put the Lions up 20-13 with just over 11 minutes remaining. On a third and three, Bumgardner kept the ball and attempted to sneak up the middle for the first down with less than three minutes to go, but missed the mark by mere inches. After a false start pushed the Lions back five yards, Bumgardner was sacked, giving the ball back to the Warriors.

From there, it was all Weaver. A 25 yard reception brought the Warriors within the 10 yard line, and with 46 seconds remaining in the contest, Weaver hauled in the touchdown. The extra point was good, tying the game at 20.

Facing third and ten in the first overtime, Long came up big, hauling in a pass and dodging to the end zone. Jacob Zartman’s extra point put the Lions up 27-20. The Warriors took their time to respond. Weaver bobbled and dropped a pass in the end zone, and the Lions stood their ground at the seven yard line for three downs, thanks to an acrobatic tip from Tight End Corey West. However, Cleveland eventually found their iron horse receiver, and pulled even with St. Helens to force a second overtime.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - St. Helens running back Tanner Long dives for the end zone in the third overtime of the football game on Friday, Aug. 30. Long missed the touchdown by a yard, but the Lions scored on the next play to take a 35-27 lead.Both teams held one another scoreless in the second overtime, but things picked up again in the third. An impressive 14 yard run off a reverse from Long nearly found the end zone after a diving attempt from the senior, but Norton took care of business on fourth down, and Bumgardner’s skip up the middle put the Lions up 35-27, but not for long, as Brant found Bergin for a 10 yard touchdown reception just four plays later. Brant kept the ball on a run up the middle for the two point conversion, sending the marathon to a fourth overtime.

The high octane didn’t slow down. Brant found Weaver for a walk-in-the-park one-handed nab, but the two point conversion failed. Bumgardner took matters into his own hands on the next possession for a touchdown, but the shovel pass to Zartman on the two point try was read well by the Warriors and stopped.

That was the last thing that really failed for the Lions. Bumgardner scored on the first play of the fifth overtime, and walked into the end zone for the conversion, putting St. Helens in front.

By now, the game had stretched for nearly four hours, and Cleveland was falling apart at the seams. Two false starts and a badly thrown pass backed the Warriors up to the 20. Justin Helgerson lept into the air and deflected the next pass, and Brant slipped on third down. A desperate hail-mary pass met only the hands of Helgerson, and the game finally ended with St. Helens on top, 49-41.

Scoring breakdown:

SH - Long 25 yard run (Zartman run)

CL - Weaver 70 yard pass from Brant (conversion failed)

CL - Bergin 4 yard pass from Brant (kick good)

SH - Norton 4 yard pass from Bumgardner (conversion failed)

SH - Bumgardner 4 yard run (kick failed)

CL - Weaver 7 yard pass from Brant (kick good)


SH - Long 25 yard pass from Bumgardner (kick good)

CL - Weaver 6 yard pass from Brant (kick good)

SH - Norton 1 yard run (Norton run)

CL - Weaver 10 yard pass from Brant (conversion failed)

SH - Bumgardner 10 yard run (conversion failed)

SH - Bumgardner 10 yard run (Bumgardner run)

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