ELMA — With a playoff berth on the line, Elma and Forks needed more than the standard 48 minutes to determine a winner on Friday night.
After four quarters of regulation and three overtime periods, the Spartans finally defeated the Eagles, 46-38, in an Evergreen 1A League thriller at Davis Field.
With the win, Forks secured the league’s third and final postseason berth. Elma (1-2, 2-6) is eliminated from playoff contention.
After leading 22-8 at halftime, Elma struggled to stop the Spartans’ slow, methodical power running game in the second half. Led by 220-pound senior Jack Dahlgren, Forks was able to move the ball consistently by repeatedly running up the middle. Forks racked up 380 yards on the ground in the contest.
The Spartans (2-1, 4-3) utilized that power running game in the third overtime period as Garrison Schumack scampered in for a 6-yard touchdown and Dahlgren converted a 2-point conversion for an 8-point advantage.
A negative running play and a high snap that slipped through the fingertips of Eagles junior quarterback Avery Brown on second and third down, respectively, left the Eagles with a do-or-die fourth and goal from the 29-yard line. Brown’s fourth-down pass was knocked away to end the contest.
“The kids played their guts out,” Elma head coach Ron Clark said. “They played their guts out and tried really hard. We made too many mistakes today, but it was more a matter of us being unable to stop their really tough running game. They (Forks) found what was working for them and just kept going back to it. We couldn’t stop it.”
Dahlgren finished the game with 141 yards and three scores on 29 carries. On defense, the senior recorded two tackles-for-loss, one sack and a team-high seven solo tackles.
With 6:05 left in the third quarter, Brown hit senior wideout Brandon Butcher for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Brown then connected with Tanner Krippelcz on the 2-point conversion to extend Elma’s lead to 30-16.
The Eagles saw their lead trimmed to 30-24 near the end of the third quarter when Dahlgren scored from 11 yards out, then rushed in for a 2-point conversion.
After forcing an Elma punt on the ensuing possession, Forks worked its way down the field again and scored on a 1-yard run by Tristen Pisani to tie the game at 30. This time, the point after run by Dahlgren was stuffed by the Eagles.
The first overtime period contained a little bit of controversy.
Pisani fumbled the ball before the play had been blown dead and Eagles lineman A.J. Hernandez appeared to recover the ball at the 1-yard line. However, the official ruled that the runner was down before the ball came loose, so Forks maintained possession.
On the next play, Dahlgren rushed for a touchdown, then added a 2-point conversion on the ground to go up 38-30.
Elma responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Caleb Hill. Brown then connected with Liam Baxter for two more points to extend the game.
Both teams turned the ball over on downs in the second overtime period.
Ira Hartford led the Eagles with 129 yards on 28 carries. The senior also caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Brown in the first quarter.
Brown threw three touchdown passes in the contest and rushed for one more.
Butcher gained 95 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving — on just five touches.
Elma will close out its schedule with the East County Civil War game against Montesano on Friday at Jack Rottle Field.