So very close: Evart's late game bid for two points barely denied in 34-33 loss to Iron Mountain

Wildcats' dream of Division 8 regional title foiled in heartbreaking loss

IRON MOUNTAIN – Less than 1 yard short.

That’s how far away the Evart Wildcats were from winning Saturday’s game at Iron Mountain in the Division 8 regional title game against the host Mountaineers.

There were 27 seconds left, Evart had just scored to make it 34-33, Iron Mountain. The Wildcats went for two points and gave it to standout running back Cole Hopkins who smashed his way through the line in pursuit of the goal-line before falling barely short.

Iron Mountain (11-1) held back the Wildcats (10-2) in a 34-33 thriller to end an heroic Evart season, but with an incredibly heartbreaking result.

Evart had built a 27-6 lead in the first half before the hosts stormed back with 27 unanswered points for the 33-27 lead. A determined Evart effort just fell short.

“We were fortunate to make it,” Iron Mountain coach Robin Martilla said. “We were very fortunate to make the play (on Hopkins). We stopped him. That was pretty much the ball game. If he had scored, they probably win since there were only 27 seconds left in the ballgame.”

Iron Mountain linebacker Bradon Farragh made the game saving tackle on Hopkins.

“We couldn’t come up with the big play when we needed it,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. 

Evart led 14-6 after the first quarter, 27-14 at halftime,  and 27-26 after the third quarter.

“It was a great high school football game,” Martilla said. “Every kid is trying their best to make the play and we were fortunate to make one more play than Evart. In a game like this, you have a bunch of kids making a bunch of plays.”

Iron Mountain had 170 yards rushing and 106 passing. Luke Wolfe had 75 yards rushing for the winners.

“They were ahead 27-6 and we got a score just before the end of the half which was big, to cut it down to a two-score game,” Martilla said. “Both teams played their hearts out, period.”

“We were up 27-6 with just a minute to go in the second quarter and they were able to go down and make some big plays before halftime (to get the touchdown),” Craven said. “We thought there were a couple of questionable offensive pass interferences but I guess they don’t call those in the U.P.

“In the third quarter we kind of got bogged down. We had a couple of offensive series stall out and turned the ball over once and let them get back into the game. The kids fought back.”

Hopkins caught a 4-yard pass from quarterback Preston Wallace with 27 seconds to go to make it 34-33. Evart had a 75-yard drive to score.

The give to Hopkins for the two point try “was one of our zone options where we had multiple options based on what the defense gave ups, Craven said. “We gave it to Cole and he came up a few feet short. He was right there.”

Evart tried an onside kick which IM recovered to seal the win.

Evart had 423 yards in total offense. Hopkins had 26 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Wallace had 15 carries for 62 yards and one touchdown. He was 18-of-25 in passing for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

Dakobe White had seven catches for 141 yards. Marcel White had five catches for 35 yards. Lucas Johnson has two receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins had two catches for 16 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Wallace had two interceptions. Hopkins had seven tackles while Jordan Wicke had six tackles and Tanner Graber and Riley Ransom each had a sack.

The weather was cold and windy but tolerable, Craven said.

“I was really proud of our kids,” Craven said. “They worked really hard and we had a fantastic year. I’m hurting right alongside of them right now.”