Evart rallies past McBain to advance to district finals

EVART—Early on, the Evart Wildcats looked to be in trouble.

Unable to stop McBain's T-formation offense and facing the loss of star running back Cole Hopkins to a shoulder injury, the Wildcats rallied behind Preston Wallaces arm and a strong second half performance defensively to beat McBain 31-22.

Evart would struggle early, going down 22-6 in the first half, and the injury of star running back Cole Hopkins further deflated the Wildcats. Yet, with two scores before halftime, Evart was right back in it down at the intermission 22-18.

"At halftime, we reminded the kids that this is what we've worked on all week."  Craven said. "We knew that they would throw some new wrinkles, but we had a good idea what those wrinkles would be. Then we didn't adjust when Cole got hurt, he makes our defensive calls, and he's out. We had a sophomore linebacker and another new guy in there and so we just weren't in the right spot. At halftime, we talked about it, fixed it and played much better in the second half."

The defense came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, shutting down McBain's offense and not allowing them to score in the second half. Evart scored 25 straight points in the comeback win.

One of the players stepping up when Hopkins went down was running back and outside linebacker Tanner Graber. The running game didn't miss a beat with Graber in, as he rushed for 116 yards on 14 carries. He also forced a crucial fumble on a sack in the fourth quarter that the Wildcats would use to put the game out of reach. 

"I kind of think we came into the game thinking it was going to be like last game, a blowout, they just ran it right down the middle. That was an adjustment we had make," Graber said. "This happened against Lake City and I played the same role in this game. I knew it was going to be tough and so I stepped up."

Leading the comeback on the evening was quarterback Preston Wallace, who went 18-of-27 for 303 yards and five touchdown passes. He also rushed for 24 yards on six carries. Three of his connections were to junior Dakobe White, who had 108 yards and three touchdowns on four receptions. He also ended McBain's final drive, picking off quarterback Braylon Pace.

Marcel White finished with five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown catch. Jake Ladd had four catches for 90 yards and a receiving touchdown. He also led the Wildcats in tackles with 10. Lucas Johnson had three receptions for 45 yards. Jaxon Craven had nine tackles.

Next Friday, Evart will face East Jordan at home. East Jordan sits at 6-4 after a 6-0 win over Frankfort on Friday.

"It means a lot, we get all of our supporters here," Dakobe White said about another home game. "East Jordan is pretty far so maybe not a lot of people are making it. But with everybody here we got a lot of support, and for those guys, we do it."