A Wildcat heartbreak; No. 6-ranked Wildcats fall at the wire to No. 2-ranked Beal City

Evart falls from the unbeaten ranks

EVART – It was so close, so very close.

A potential game-winning touchdown for Division 8 sixth-ranked Evart over No. 2-ranked Beal City apparently fell inches short in the closing seconds of Friday’s Highland Conference showdown, lifting the Aggies (4-0, 5-0) to a 26-21 win over the Wildcats (3-1, 4-1).

Trailing by five points with 14. 9 secondd to play, Evart had the ball on the Aggie 9-yard line with no timeouts. Quarterback Preston Wallace rolled out and passed near the sidelines to Dakobe White who headed toward the end zone and was tackled by the Aggie defense. He fumbled the ball out of bounds, prior to crossing the goal-line  the officials ruled. It was ruled a touchback for Beal City.

“We’re really disappointed,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “It’s a good life lesson. Sometimes you feel you earned something and deserve something but you still don’t get it. I thought our kids played championship level football tonight. They played well enough to earn a victory. We didn’t do enough to get it done. We’re not victims. We’re not here to make excuses. We have to work to get better, get back on the saddle and focus against McBain.”

Evart built a 14-6 first-half lead with Cole Hopkins scoring both touchdowns. He scored early in the second and  Jordan Wicke booted the extra point. Quarterback Jack Fussman scored on a 3-yard keeper for the Aggies. Hopkins had a 2-yard run later in the second quarter.

The Aggie offense got revitalized in the second half. Fussman had a 3-yard touchdown run but the Wildcats stopped Jamison Latham just shy of the goal-line on the two-point try and kept a 14-12 lead.

They just decided to start running right at us,” Craven said. “They were trying to overpower. We expected that. We expected our defense to be able to shut down what they wanted to be able to do from a spread standpoint. That was not a surprise.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Beal City took control of the game on Latham’s 1-yard touchdown run for an 18-14 lead. He intercepted a Preston Wallace pass and eventually scored on a 3-yard run and 2-point conversion.

The Wildcat passing attack netted a 40-yard pass to Lucas Johnson which then set up a 19-yard touchdown strike from Wallace to Hopkins. Wicke kicked the PAT and it was 26-21 with 6:33 to play.

Evart appeared to take the momentum when on the enusing kickoff, Dakobe White recovered an onside kick at the Aggie 24. The Wildcats had first and goal at the BC 9. But Wallace had a bad snap and went back to get the ball at the 15. It appeared he picked it up cleanly but the officials ruled his knee was down. This helped Beal City stop the Evart drive.

The Wildcats got the ball back and took the ball to the nine with 14.9 seconds left but couldn’t score. Craven said he wasn’t able to see, from where he was standing on the sidelines, if White got into the end zone before he fumbled.

Hopkins had 132 yards on 20 carries for the Wildcats. Jamison had 143 yards for the Aggies. Wallace was 21-of-28 in passing for 158 yards. White had nine catches for 72 yards and Johnson had three for 43.

Defensively, Jake Ladd and Hopkin had 12 tackles apiece for Evart while Tanner Graber and Wicke had seven tackles apiece.

“Things happen like that,” Graber said. “Sometimes, there are just things you can’t control. I think we played a good game. There was nothing we could do about it.”

Other scores:

Also Friday night, it was Tri County (5-0) 42-0 over Morley Stanwood (0-5); Farwell (5-0) defeated Baldwin (0-4) 70-30 in 8-player football action. Next week, Morley Stanwood will host Kent City and Baldwin will be at Brethren.