|Cats slip in 27-28 loss to Clay|
|The Press - Sports|
|Written by Bob Gerard|
|Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:12|
The Wildcat’s 27-28 district loss to Clay County September 26 had so much drama, so many ups and downs, it could be likened to a Shakespearean tragedy.
It was an edge of the seat affair in two acts. In the first act, the Wildcats struck first and filled the audience with joy and expectation.
That quickly faded as the antagonists pummeled the home team for four straight touchdowns, leaving the audience devastated and silent.Then came intermission – a long, protracted intermission as the rain and lightning that forced the game’s cancellation on Friday came back to haunt the stage like Prince Hamlet’s ghost.
In the second act, our heroes began the dramatic comeback that saw them strap on their armor and march down the field like Shakespeare’s Henry V’s famous “band of brothers.”
But there were pitfalls, in the guise of seven turnovers and injuries to key actors. Jeremy Wannamaker went down, leaving the Cats without an experienced kicker. Kendrick Singleton was injured late in the game when he was needed the most.Like all Shakespearean tragedies, this one ended heroically, but without the heroes winning. But like great drama, they learned a lot about character in the loss.
This was a game the Wildcats needed if they hope to win the district and advance into the playoffs, and it looked like they had positioned themselves perfectly. On the first play of the game, Thomas Sirk hit Singleton on a post pattern for a 74-yard touchdown scamper and a 7-0 lead.
From then to the end of the half it was a comedy of errors for BCHS. Clay coach Josh Hoekstra watched a lot of film in preparing for the game and owes Trinity coach Verlon Dorminey a case of his favorite adult beverage. Trinity showed Clay the Wildcats’ weakness against the run and they exploited it for the whole first half.
Joe Cooper, Clay’s top running back, was unstoppable in the first half, running for 146 yards on 28 carries. Though not a big runner, he has a punishing Maurice Jones-Drew style and is very hard to bring down. Four times Cooper and quarterback Hunter Alexander guided the Blue Devils down the field into scoring position. Once Cooper did the honors and the other three scores went to his backup Francie Emile.
On their side of the ball, the Wildcats continued to under perform. They moved the ball well against Clay but lost four first half turnovers and went into intermission trailing 28-7.
Wildcat coach Ryan Sulkowski and his staff didn’t get to where they are without knowing a thing or two about re-shaping a football game. At the half, which was extended by a lightning delay, they made all the adjustments they needed defensively to plug the hole Cooper was scampering through. The revitalized BCHS defense would hold the Blue Devils scoreless in the second half.
The entire Wildcat defense stepped up one or two levels the second half but defensive end CeCe Jefferson and senior linebacker Rickie Tharpe went even farther, harassing Alexander and stopping Cooper and Emile cold.
The Cats drove down the field on their first possession of the half within sight of the goal before the sky lit up with lightning and both teams went back to the locker room. When they came out 45 minutes later, BCHS drove in for a 3-yard Sirk plunge.
But midway through the first half, Wannamaker, one of the best kickers in the area, went out with an injury and Roland Gaskins pulled the extra point wide. Wannamaker’s absence would come back to haunt BCHS.
The defense rose up and stopped the Blue Devils again and again and the offense responded. But errant throws and fumbles hung over the Cats like the dark clouds. Two third-quarter drives were quashed by fumbles, and while the Wildcats were able to stop Clay, the clock kept ticking.
Clay was also not immune to miscues, with four fumbles of its own. The Wildcats took advantage of one of those and Sirk found Gaskins, who had been trying to get his attention, for a big gain. The receiver ran in for the score and Singleton converted the two-pointer to narrow the gap to 21-28.
The Cats took advantage of another Clay fumble and another key strike to Gaskins to move into scoring position. Sirk scrambled on fourth down to the 1-yard line and drove it in on a quarterback sneak to cut the score to 27-28.
Had Wannamaker been available, the Wildcats would have probably taken the extra point to tie the game. Had Singleton not been injured in the fourth quarter, he would have been the obvious target, but instead they tried a pitch-out to Falon Lee. Lee bobbled it and that was just enough for Clay to smother him and seal the win.
The loss means that BCHS will have to run the table in the last three district games, including the final district match up on November 4 with currently undefeated Bishop Kenny.
This drama has a sequel.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 29 September 2011 11:58|