Apaches Face Off with Cougars Deep In Ruston

Photos by Emily Glasscock

By Travis Chapman

Friday night marked the start of the most wonderful time of the year, if you’re a proud self-respecting southerner that gives in to the self-indulgence of being under the stadium lights for the next 10 plus weeks. With butterflies in their bellies, overtaken by fire, the Apaches face off against the perennial powerhouse Cedar Creek Cougars deep in the hills of Ruston. The Apaches look to build on the successes of a stellar 2022 campaign with first year head coach, Reagan Smith.

The Apaches received the opening kickoff and wasted no time showcasing their ground game. Behind the powerful running of Chase Sentell and the formidable Landry Powell, they marched down the field. Sentell burst through the defense with a 20-yard touchdown run, and the Apaches went for the two-point conversion, successfully taking an early 8-0 lead.

However, the Cougars weren’t about to back down. After receiving the ball on their own 40-yard line following a missed onside kick by the Apaches, they launched an impressive ground attack. But the Apaches’ defense rose to the occasion, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Brayson Cummings.

With newfound momentum, the Apaches’ offense, led by QB Easton Sanders, struck quickly. A well-balanced mix of rushing and passing plays culminated in a 12-yard TD pass from Sanders to Jackson Waller. The Apaches converted the two-point conversion, widening their lead to 16-0.

The Cougars received the ball determined to stick to their strong running game, but Daivari Jackson’s thunderous tackle for a loss for the Apaches momentarily halted their progress. There was nothing between Daivari and the QB but air and opportunity! And he carpied the diem!! Nevertheless, the Cougars persisted on the ground, bringing the first quarter to a close with the score at 16-0 in favor of the Apaches.

In the second quarter, the Cougars found their rhythm, controlling the line of scrimmage and eventually converting a crucial 4th-and-goal for a touchdown. However, they failed the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 16-6 in favor of the Apaches.

The Apaches faced a tough 4th down situation in their next offensive series but chose to go for it. Chase Sentell, with his lightning-fast speed, managed to convert the 4th down and sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, a penalty flag nullified the TD, leading to a punt.

The Cougars utilized a clock-eating drive in their next possession, and their elusive quarterback broke free for a touchdown run. Despite another missed two-point conversion, the score narrowed to 16-12 in favor of the Apaches.

Eager to extend their lead, the Apaches’ offense was thwarted by penalties and turnovers, preventing them from capitalizing on scoring opportunities. However, their resilient defense, including a critical tackle for a loss by Cade Vining, kept the Cougars at bay.

As the first half drew to a close, Chase Sentell once again stole the spotlight, intercepting the Cougars’ quarterback and preserving the Apaches’ 16-12 lead.

The third quarter was marked by tough defensive play from both teams, but the Apaches managed to break through with the golden arm of QB Easton Sanders as he completes a shovel pass to team captain and monstrous Garrett Brown that setup a 40-yard touchdown pass to Landry Powell with just a flick of his wrist. They couldn’t convert the two-point conversion, but their lead extended to 22-12.

In a game filled with penalties and missed opportunities, the Apaches recovered an onside kick but had another 58 yard bomb completed from Sanders just to have it called back due to a penalty, resulting in a punt. The Cougars began to assert control at the line of scrimmage, making it challenging for the Apaches.

As the fourth quarter rolled in, the Cougars finally found the end zone with a well-executed pass, reducing the deficit to 22-18 with 11:08 remaining.

The game hung in the balance as the Apaches took the field, but a costly interception gave the Cougars possession deep in Apache territory. The resilient Apache defense forced another fumble, once again changing the course of the game.

With just 5:50 left in the contest, the Cougars had another chance deep in Apache territory. However, penalties and staunch defense by the Apaches led to a seemingly insurmountable 3rd-and-50 situation, and the Cougars turned the ball over on downs.

With a slim lead and 3:07 remaining, the Apaches relied on their ground game to control the clock. In a pivotal moment, they faced a critical 4th down. The offensive line carved just enough room for Chase Sentell to pick up the necessary 5 yards for a first down, sealing the Apaches’ first victory of the season with a final score of 22-18 over the Cedar creek Cougars. The crowd erupted in celebration as the Apaches demonstrated resilience and determination in a hard-fought battle on the road in the long anticipated opening night of the 2023 season. The Apaches look to extend their record to 2-0 next week as the Bossier Bearkats travel to Country Club Circle for a 7pm contest!