Goldbugs lose opener to Purcell by one touchdown


August 28, 2022

Desiree Morehead

Alva softball girls played Blackwell Thursday evening. Starting pitcher Jaycee Kelln gracefully puts the ball over the plate.

With the temperature in the 90s, it was a hot Friday night for football in Alva. The contest between the Alva Goldbugs and the Purcell Dragons also heated up the fans with exciting, edge of seat plays. Although the home team lost by a touchdown, fans on both sides of the ball had a lot to enjoy. Alva scored first but Purcell pulled ahead until the fourth quarter. That's when the Goldbugs staged a comeback to take the lead. Purcell overtook Goldbugs, but in the final seconds, Alva was inches from the goal. Purcell's line held, and the Dragons won 40-34.

In their first game of the season and Dave Foster's second year as head coach, the Goldbugs had some standout players. In his first varsity start at quarterback, sophomore Cambell Gaisford was cool under pressure and connected on some nice passes. The Dragons couldn't contain big sophomore Lantz Mathers who accounted for most of Alva's rushing yards. The brothers Malone-Wharton consisting of Daylon Malone, Drake Wharton and DeMarkus Wharton played key roles in the Goldbug offense as did receivers Phillip Randall and Drew Glass. Aiden Faison also saw a lot of action on offense. The defensive team didn't get as much playing time, but they protected Gaisford from getting sacked although Gaisford took some hits in the game.

On the negative side, the Goldbugs had six penalties in the first half, many of them from moving too early. In the second half, Alva had five more penalties. Two Goldbug turnovers led to 14 of Purcell's points. The Dragons were also able to find some holes in the Alva defense that led to big plays.

First Quarter

Purcell had first possession of the ball with senior Brody Galyean at quarterback. Having gained only four yards in three plays, they elected to punt. The snap went through the hands of the punter and into the end zone where Drake Wharton picked it up for a Goldbug touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Alva led 6-0.

The Dragons made only two yards of forward progress on their next possession before punting.

Handoffs from Gaisford to Mathers gained seven yards for Alva, and Drake Wharton ran seven more for the first down. Mathers gained one yard, and Alva was at their 48 yard line. That's when a fumble sank the Goldbug hopes. Purcell's Adam Edelman picked up the ball, and the Dragon's took over at Alva's 41.

Galyean kept the ball and ran for 19 yards. After an incomplete pass, Galyean connected with Boston Knowles near the end zone. From the three yard line, it took three plays for the Dragons to score. Galyean ran the last two yards for the touchdown. Devan Martin's extra point kick was no good, and the teams were tied at 6 points each.

After the kickoff, Alva was at their 33 yard line. Mathers was pushed back for a one yard loss, but Purcell was called for an offside penalty, advancing the Goldbugs to the 37. Mathers ran the ball the remaining yards for a first down. Mathers gained another three yards rushing, and then Gasiford connected on a pass to Glass for a 44 yard gain. Now at the Purcell 10 yard line, Gaisford gave the ball to who passed it to Randall for the touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but Alva now led 12-6.

Purcell returned the kickoff to the Alva 44. Setting up quickly, Galyean passed to a wide open Jose Tarango who raced into the end zone for a 44 yard touchdown. Devan Martin's kick was good, and Purcell edged in front of the Goldbugs 13-12.

Setting up at the Alva 21 after the kickoff, Gaisford gave the ball to Drake Wharton who carried tacklers with him for a nine yard gain. Gaisford unleashed a nice pass to Malone for a 15 yard gain. Gaisford handed the ball to DeMarkus Wharton who had a good run, but it was negated by a holding call on Alva. The Goldbug drive stalled at their 38 yard line with 17 yards to go (including the penalty) as the first quarter ended.

Second Quarter

Starting off the second period, the Goldbugs advanced from their 38 to Purcell's 48, but it wasn't enough for the first down.

Galyean handed off to Payson Purcell who was taken down for a loss of one yard by Hagan Wiersig. Galyean was pressured and threw an incomplete. Again the Goldbug defense put on the pressure but this time Galyean connected for a 10 yard gain. With one yard needed on the fourth play, Galyean handed off to Brody Holder, but Mathers immediately stopped him to get the ball back for Alva.

At the Alva 44, Gaisford handed off to Mathers who ran for nine yards. Another run by Mathers gained the first down and put Alva at the Purcell 23. After advancing a yard, a false start set the Goldbugs back to the 27. With 14 yards to go, the ball went from Gaisford to Drake Wharton to Randall to Glass but no forward progress was made. On the third down, Mathers ran for a gain of seven yards. With seven to go, Gaisford threw over the middle. Intended receiver Glass was battling with defender Kash Guthmueller when a flag was thrown. The penalty against Alva was declined, and Purcell took over on their 20 yard line.

Malone managed to knock away a pass from Galyean intended for Jose Ochoa. On the second play, Galyean handed the ball to Knowles who broke tackles to find running room. He took the ball 80 yards for the touchdown. The extra point kick was blocked by Alva, but Purcell now led 19-12.

After the kickoff went into the end zone, Alva started at their 20. Mathers broke through tacklers to gain nine yards. On the next play, Mathers had the first down, but Alva was called for holding. Instead of one yard, the Goldbugs had 11 yards ahead. DeMarkus Wharton gained two yards, and Drake Wharton finished the job, getting Alva to the 31.

A fourth penalty on Alva, a false start, set the home team back by five yards. Luckily Purcell committed an offside on the next lineup, effectively negating the Goldbug penalty. Back at the 31, the Goldbugs made a first down on a quarterback keeper by Gaisford and a Mathers run. Mathers and Faison took Alva to the Purcell 45, but another false start set them back to mid-field. Gaisford ran the ball a couple of yards before connecting with Glass on a 29 yard pass play.

In the next set of plays, a run by Gaisford went nowhere then Mathers carried for eight yards. A false start set Alva back to the 28. After an incomplete pass, Drake Wharton took the ball to the Alva 31 before being brought down to end the Alva possession.

Starting at their 31, it took four plays for Purcell to score. Two big runs by Knowles took the ball to the Alva 41. From there, Galyean passed to Ochoa at the 10, and he ran the ball in for the TD. Martin couldn't control the ball out of the snap so the extra point attempt failed. Purcell now led 25-12. Alva managed two plays before the half ended with the score standing at Purcell 25, Alva 12.

Third Quarter

After the kickoff, Alva was at their 18 yard line. A five yard run by Mathers and an offsides call on Purcell gave the Goldbugs a first down. Two more five yard carries by Mathers led to another first down. From the Alva 39, Mathers rushed five yards in two carries. Then Gaisford's 13 yard pass to Faison finished the first down and more. Now in Purcell territory at the 43, Gaisford handed off to Mathers for a first down at to the 28. Drake Wharton gained another three yards then ran the remaining 25 yards for the touchdown. The conversion failed, but the Purcell lead was narrowed to 25-18.

Purcell was in good field position at their 45 after the kickoff. They managed to advance three yards, but an incomplete pass kept them at the 48. On the third play, Faison got past the defenders to sack Galyean. Purcell had to settle for a long punt that landed at Alva's 13 yard line.

After an eight yard run by Mathers and an incomplete pass, Gaisford went to the ground as the third play started, probably with a cramp from the heat. The officials called it a loss on the play. After the injury timeout, Mathers punted the ball away.

The Purcell possession was short-lived, ending with a punt from mid-field. Alva's attempt to catch and runback the ball was bobbled, and the Goldbugs had to start one yard from their own goal. Gaisford attempted a pass, but it was picked off by Ty Jasperson at the 16 yard line.

That turnover cost Alva another touchdown. From the Alva 16, it took the Dragons three plays to score. Knowles ran the ball in from the seven. Martin's kick was good, and Purcell now led 31-18.

Malone had a good runback for Alva on the kickoff, but a flag for holding went against the Goldbugs, putting them back to their 25 yard line. Two runs by Mathers and one by Drake Wharton took Alva to the 39 and the first down. Wharton had one more run for no gain before the third quarter ended. Purcell now led 32-18.

Fourth Quarter

The Goldbugs weren't ready to concede. It took ten more plays including a 37 yard halfback pass from Malone to Randall to get to the goal line. After a handoff at the one-yard line went nowhere, Gaisford kept the ball and ran in for the touchdown. Gaisford pitched the ball to Drake Wharton who ran for the extra two points. Alva was now down by one touchdown 32-26.

Purcell had a good kickoff return by Guthmueller to set up at the 50 yard line. But that position didn't pay off. First they were assessed a five-yard penalty for delay of game. Galyean kept the ball to gain five yards, but he was hammered by Alva's defense. On the second play, Galyean was sacked by Alva's Allie Pollock. Galyean's pass overshot the receiver, and Purcell had to punt. Hunter Miller stepped up to block the ball, and Mathers grabbed it, running to the Purcell 29.

From there Mathers ran for nine yards, and Drake Wharton followed with a six yard gain. From the 16, Gaisford pitched the ball out to Faison who ran in for the TD. Sadly it was negated by a holding call on Alva. The ball was placed at the 17. Mathers gained three yards, but a Goldbug false start took them back to the 19. Malone ran the ball to the six where Gaisford handed off to Mathers. The big sophomore ran in for the touchdown. The two point conversion was good with Drake Wharton getting across the line. Alva had gained the lead 34-32.

Purcell made short work of their next possession starting at their 31. They were helped along by another Alva penalty, this one a 15 yard personal foul. From the Alva 46, Knowles ran for six yards. On the next handoff from Galyean, Knowles cutback and found a lane to run for the 40 yard touchdown. To seal their lead, the Dragons went for two points and made it with a pass from Galyean to Ochoa. The Dragons were now up 40-34.

Desiree Morehead

First basemen Jorgia Nichols catches the ball and gets the runner out.

From their 35 yard line, Alva fought their way to the Purcell 24. Gaisford threw to Malone for the first down at the 13. Gaisford threw the ball to Drake Wharton, but a block in the back penalty put them back to the 24. Alva had a good look with Glass in the end zone as Gaisford threw the ball, but the pass was knocked away by the Dragons. Gaisford tried again and connected with Randall to get the ball on the five. A penalty set them back to the ten. Drake Wharton carried for a gain of two, and Alva called their final timeout. On the fourth down, Gaisford was pressured and threw an incomplete pass.

Galyean took a knee as the final seconds ticked off the clock, and Purcell won 40-34.

Up Next

Next Friday, the Goldbugs take on another non-conference foe Thomas at Ranger Field. Kickoff time for the homecoming game is at 7 p.m. with homecoming festivities starting at 6:15 p.m.


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