It took all of regulation, two overtimes, and one very bold play, but for the first time since 2006, the Cherry Hill East Cougars beat the reigning back-to-back South Jersey Group IV champion Cherokee Chiefs, by a final score of 57-56.
“It was pretty surreal,” said East quarterback Jesse Gold (’12) who threw for two touchdowns, and ran for the two point conversion that gave the Cougars the win. “It’s huge… a win like this is like a playoff win for us.”
The call to go for the win, and not just an extra point that would have given them a tie, came as somewhat of a surprise after star running back Brian Regan (’12) was hurt just a few plays earlier. Regan, who ran for 277 yards, putting him over 1000 yards for the season, on 35 carries before the injury also contributed three touchdowns, one of which was a 25 yard run in the first overtime. But despite the injury, coach Tom Coen was confident in the team’s ability to get the conversion, and the win.
“Those are things we practice all year, for situations just like that,” he said. “I told the guys, we needed to win this game… it’s absolutely a signature win for us.”
The two point conversion was setup by a two yard touchdown run by Daishi Goto (’13), his first run of the game after filling in for Regan. Before that, the game was a typical clash of two high-powered offenses, with 84 points being scored even before overtime. The game also had its fair share of big plays, with three touchdown plays that were over sixty yards.
Two of the touchdowns for over sixty yards came from East, one an 89 yard touchdown catch from Taj Frazier (’12), and the other a 66 yard run by Rob Taylor (’12).
The Cougars, now 5-3, are eligible for the state playoffs. However, a power point system determines who makes the playoffs, with only the top eight teams getting in. Because the results are not ready yet, East will have to sit back and wait to see their post-season fate. However, playoffs or not, one thing is certain: the Cougars did all they possibly could to keep their season alive.