Evart falls in opening-round of playoffs to CC-Crystal

CARSON CITY — Evart seemed poised to hand Carson City-Crystal its first loss of the season Friday night.

But the Wildcats’ lack of execution plus critical personal foul penalties hampered their plans. Evart couldn’t execute effectively on offense and the Wildcats sustained a 21-6 loss to the host school in the predistrict round of the Division 7 football playoffs.

The Eagles had touchdown runs by three different ball carriers and only amassed 148 yards rushing and 15 passing. But they took advantage of two fumbles and an interception against Evart. The Wildcats gained 108 yards passing but only 52 on the ground and were penalized nine times for 97 yards including five crucial unsportsmanlike penalties.

“They were physical and we knew they would be,” Carson City-Crystal coach Devin Pringle said. “Our defense, those kids stepped up. I told them (at halftime) this is playoff football and you’re beating a very good football team.”

While the season ends at 7-3 for Evart, the Eagles advance to the district finals with a 10-0 record.

“We knew they were physical,” Pringle said. “I’d be lying if our seniors weren’t up for this one. They had a little revenge in mind to even things up.”

Evart had defeated CC-Crystal 16-12 in the opening round of the playoffs last season.

“If you want to be a championship caliber team, you have to play good clean, solid football,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “We just didn’t play sound disciplined football (Friday). We let the game get too big for us and committed some stupid penalties. Those things hurt you in playoff games.”

The Wildcats dominated the first quarter in which the Eagles didn’t get out of their own territory until a minute to play. Evart finally took advantage on a short drive that resulted in a 1-yard run by Derek Bowen with 2:57 to play in the first. The PAT kick failed but Evart was in control 6-0.

Midway in the second quarter, the Eagles drove for a touchdown, aided on a 20-yard run by Will Beedy and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Evart.

The Eagles would score on Beedy’s 4-yard run and kicked the PAT for a 7-6 lead.

“We have intelligent kids up front,” Pringle said. “They’re the ones that came up with the scheme that busted a couple of runs and got that first touchdown for us.”

Late in the second quarter, Evart drove to the Eagle 14 but the drive stalled on downs.

The Wildcat defense stopped a CC-C drive at the Evart 2 during the third quarter. But the Wildcats couldn’t move and the Eagles took advantage of key Evart penalties and scored in the fourth quarter on TD runs of two and one yards by Dallas O’Green and Robert Failing.

“They did nothing we didn’t expect to see,” Craven said. “We game-planned for what they did offensively and defensively very well I thought. I thought our defense played very well. But we gave them progress with penalties. They moved the football when we couldn’t be disciplined and play inside the whistle.”

The passing game for Evart couldn’t adjust to the wet field although the rains stayed away for most of the game. Fortune passed for 108 yards and also ran for 22 yards, which led the Wildcat rushing attack.

“We had some drops but they had to play in the same weather (Friday),” Craven said. “No excuses. It’s not like it was a monsoon. We didn’t execute the way we needed to.”

The Wildcats lost to two undefeated teams this season in Beal City and CC-C and one, Lake City, that had only one loss.

“I thought this was a microcosm of our year,” Craven said. “When we play sound disciplined football, we were one of the best teams around. When we give up five or six foolish penalties, then it bites us in the tail. We’ve been fighting this all year long.”