Early deficits too much for Evart in loss to Lake City

EVART — The success a football team enjoys one week doesn’t necessarily carry over to the next.

Evart (1-3, 2-4) couldn’t sustain the momentum it enjoyed a week ago into Friday’s Highland Conference homecoming game and lost 21-13 to Lake City (2-2, 3-3).

Evart trailed 21-0 until scoring 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but ran out of time.

“Our defense continues to play very tough,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “Offensively, we put our defense in some tough spots. We just can’t do that. We turned the ball over tonight but made too many mistakes offensively.”

The Wildcats were coming off their huge 17-7 upset over Beal City on Sept. 25 against the previously undefeated and No. 1-ranked Aggies. It was Evart’s first win in 18 years over Beal City.

The Trojans built a 14-0 halftime lead. They scored on the game’s first drive, going 71 yards on 10 plays with Justin Balcer running 10 yards for the score.

Lake City topped Evart at its own 43 on the next drive and drove to the Wildcat 3-yard line before running out on downs.

In the second quarter, Zachary Noren intercepted a Robbie Tapling pass and returned it 30 yards to the Evart 4. After a loss of yardage, Cade Peterson passed to Lucas Marion 10 yards for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Both teams had another turnover later in the half but the opposition couldn’t capitalize. The Wildcats had 30 yards passing and 25 rushing in the first half.

The entire third quarter was spent in Evart territory. The Trojans were driving as the fourth quarter started. Peterson passed 9 yards to Wyatt Bisballe for the touchdown and Ethan Blaszak kicked his third PAT for a 21-0 lead.

The Wildcats followed with a touchdown at 7:55 on a 9-yard run from Dillon Danley, that was set up on a 61-yard pass play from Tapling to Danny Griffin. With 1:32 to play, Tapling passed 16 yards to Andrew Maxwell for the touchdown, making it an eight-point game. But Lake City recovered the onside kick.

“Defensively, we continue to play tough,” Craven said. “Our kids executed our defensive game plan as well as we thought we could. There’s little things here and there we have to get better yet.”

Evart had 174 yards passing on 13 completions for Tapling.

“We really didn’t come out intense, but kind of slow,” Tapling said. “We didn’t fire on all cylinders. We kind of waited until the second half.”

The Wildcats rushed for 78 yards, led by Danley with 48.

“Field position was tough,” Craven said. “Offensively, we weren’t able to move the ball.”

The Trojans had 40 yards passing and 146 yards rushing, led by Justin Balcer with 87 yards.

The last time Evart has beaten Lake City was 43-14 in 2008.

 “I was proud of them,” Craven said. “We were down by 21 and we could have packed it in. But we came back and were right there.”

Evart is at Pine River next Friday.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, that’s just the way it is,” Craven said. “You’re going to have challenges and you’re going to have ups and downs. We have to keep battling and keep fighting.”