Evart football team shocks unbeaten McBain

Evart quarterback Danny Witbeck looks for running room against McBain on Friday. (Herald Review/John Raffel)

Evart quarterback Danny Witbeck looks for running room against McBain on Friday. (Herald Review/John Raffel)

MCBAIN — When McBain met Evart earlier this season, the Ramblers roared to a 52-16 win.

It was a different story on Friday when the two football teams met in the Division 7 district semifinal.

The Wildcats (6-2) shocked the undefeated Ramblers (now 7-1) by taking a 34-31 win on the road.

The Wildcats will play at Oscoda Friday night in a district title game.

“After our week two showing, we knew we were an underdog,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “We talked on Monday about the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic and how McBain were our Russians. That’s how we attacked the week. We talked about that hockey team and how they were young kids, small, not as big, and for one night, they had to make magic happen.”

Evart entered the game having won five straight. McBain had won seven straight but earned their last two wins via forfeits and this was their first game in three weeks.

The loss to McBain for Evart came on week two. The Wildcats are 5-0 after that.

After a scoreless first quarter, McBain took a 7-0 lead in the second on Daniel Rodenbaugh's 1-yard run. With 34 seconds left in the quarter, Evart quarterback Danny Witbeck had a 4-yard touchdown run and Reese Ransom booted the extra point.

But on the last play of the half, Deacon Dodde threw a 45-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.

“We challenged our kids to just keep digging and fighting,” Craven said. “We knew McBain is bigger and stronger than us. But our heart, speed, desire, quickness, tenacity. We knew for one night, we could do it. It’s Nov. 6, it’s 60 degrees, no wind, it’s not raining or snowing. It was a perfect night for us. I’m proud of our kids.”

The Wildcats came back to tie it 14-14 on Bryant Calderon’s 9-yard touchdown run after he had completed a 30-yard play on a hook and ladder. McBain came back to take a 17-14 lead midway in the third on a 35-yard field goal by Tristen McElhinney.

The Wildcats drove down the field. Calderon scored from 4 yards out with 3:34 left in the third for a 21-17 lead.

Kaiden McGillis returned the kickoff for McBain 25 yards to the Evart 25.

McGillis two plays later had a 15-yard touchdown run and McBain led 24-21 at 2:03.

Witbeck threw 24 yards to Cole Hopkins for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT was no good and it was 27-24.

McBain scored with 8:56 to play when Carsten Huitenga caught a tipped pass for a 35-yard touchdown and 31-27 lead.

Evart marched down the field and Calderon scored on a 23-yard run with 8:09 to play. Ransom’s extra point made it 34-31.

Pierce Johnson intercepted a pass for Evart but the Wildcats had to punt it with four minutes to play and McBain got the ball toward midfield but was stymied on a holding call.

Brycen Shively intercepted a pass with three minutes to play. Witbeck ran for a first down to help Evart run out the clock.

“It feels great,” Shively said. “I finally got my chance (on the interception). And I took it.”

Evart had 540 yards of total offense.

Witbeck carried the ball 16 times for 116 yards and one touchdown and was 27-of-45 in passing for 332 yards and a touchdown.

“It feels amazing,” junior offensive lineman Alex Cornell said. “I haven’t felt this good in quite awhile, especially in football. I’m so happy to be on the starting offense. It’s such a great experience.”

Calderon had 10 carries for 76 yards and three touchdowns and caught nine passes for 92 yards. Simmer caught four passes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Shively had 15 tackles.

“We feel great tonight, but now we have to prepare for Oscoda,” Craven said.