ANCHORAGE-The Monroe Rams faced the Nikiski Bulldogs in a rematch for the ASAA First National Bowl small schools title on Saturday. It was the Rams first ever title game appearance and the third straight appearance for the Bulldogs.
It was tight in the first half. After a Jesse Eide one yard touchdown the Bulldogs the Rams answered. Tyler Wells pumped faked and then threw it up to Scooter Bynum who goes juggled the ball at first but managed to hold on and went 65 yards for a touchdown it was 8-7 at that point. The Bulldogs converted on two two point conversions and led 16-15 at halftime.
Monroe came out hot in the second half with Wells going to senior tight end Micheal Neville for a 30 yard score on their first possession of the second half. Neville had a season high 107 receiving yards. After a big defensive stop Wells goes back to Bynum again for an 18 yard touchdown pass. Wells tossed 341 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions The Rams had a 28-16 lead halfway through the third had control of the game.
But the Bulldogs didn't flinch and continued to run the ball up the middle and scored 20 unanswered points. Eide genereted 144 yards rushing and two scores. Christian Riddall added 124 yards rushing and a score. Senior running back and defensive back Michael Stangel was a force on both sides of the ball for Nikiski with two scores and two interceptions.
Unfortunately for the Rams the play of the game was the one that didn't count. Down 29-28 with a about five minutes to go the Rams go for a double pass on a fourth and long. Wells threw a dart to Bynum that resembled a quick screeen play. Bynum avoided a tackle but was looking to pass and through to the opposite side of the field and hit Wells for a touchdown. It looked looked like the play of the year but it was there was a flag for illegal forward pass. The referees said the the first pass wasn't a lateral thus negating the big play.
Nikiski punched in from four yards out for the final margin with Eide as they went back to their running game
Its Nikiski's second title in three years and ends Monroe's story book season. Monroe was a team with just 11-14 players all year came up just short of making history for their schools football program.