Last week Alter (7-4) secured its 19th straight playoff berth with a 35-28 win against CJ (8-3) on the same field.
The Knights are now 19-3 against the Eagles since their playoff streak started in 2001. Of those three losses, however, two had come in lopsided playoff games.
Friday was a fight.
En route to producing the lowest combined total points in the series this century (23 games), the teams were tied 0-0 at the half. CJ was the one shaking its head.
The Eagles had second-and-goal from the Alter 2 on their first possession, but a fumble forced a 19-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right. The Eagles also missed a 33-yard field goal on the first half’s final play.
“We didn’t do a good job taking care of the opportunities we had,” CJ head coach Marcus Colvin said. “When you don’t do that in a game like this, it can come down to one play and we didn’t make it happen.”
The Eagles took a 7-0 lead on Marquel Henry’s 1-yard run with 5:20 left in the third quarter. The score capped a 13-play, 67-yard drive that lasted 6:35.
Alter responded on its ensuing possession with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kale Steneman to Brian Shane on fourth-and-4.
Jack Ruffolo’s 21-yard field goal with 4:22 left gave the Knights a 10-7 lead.
CJ marched 70 yards in 15 plays in the final 4:16 before Plate’s interception.
“We had the right call,” Colvin said. “We wanted to win the game right there. No hesitation going for it.”
Alter hammer Branden McDonald, the GCL’s leading rusher, did not play. He was one of several ailing Knights.
“Considering the amount of kids we had out this week, our kids did a tremendous job,” Domsitz said. “This was something special.”
Alter earns a rematch with Badin (8-3) in a regional semifinal (7 p.m. Friday). The location will be announced Sunday by the OHSAA.
Badin, which beat Ross 46-14 on Friday, beat Alter 42-7 on Oct. 4.
“We were looking forward to the opportunity to play them in the playoffs and it’s finally here,” Plate said. “We’re going to prepare for Week 12 and try to go 1-0 next week.”
Said Colvin: “We were three seconds away from Week 12.”