EVART — Evart’s offense proved virtually unstoppable in the first half and the Wildcats were able to break away from Pine River for a 49-14 Highland Conference victory Friday night.

Evart keeps the Armed Services trophy which goes to the winner of this Osceola County rivalry.

The Bucks, already facing low numbers this season, also lost quarterback Skyler Nelson to a second-period injury.

Pine River scored on its first drive with Nelson passing 49 yards to Ethan Whitley for the touchdown and 6-0 lead. Evart responded with a drive ending on Ricky Miller's 3-yard run and later scored on Derek Bowen’s 5-yard run for a 14-6 advantage.

“I thought our first offensive drive was important,” said Evart coach Pat Craven. “When they scored, I felt it was important for the kids to answer and they did.”

Evart recovered two Pine River fumbles but the Wildcats also gave one up in the first quarter. Austin Grein’s 2-yard run early in the second, following a blocked punt for the Wildcats, made it 20-6, Evart.

Pine River got back in the game when Nelson connected 45 yards to James Harvey for the TD and Dakota Wieczorek ran for the two points, making it 20-14. But then Evart scored three uncontested touchdowns with 6 and 5-yard keepers by Fortune and on Grein’s 70-yard rushing score

“It was a pitch and it bounced on the ground,” Grein said. “I picked it up and was going to get what I could get. And it ended up being a touchdown. Dean Marsh was blocking the corner for me.”

That made it 42-14 at halftime. The Bucks, with only 17 players dressed for the game, lost Nelson late in the second quarter after taking a sack. Wieczorek took over for Nelson.

“We went from Skyler, a really experienced quarterback, to someone who’s really a running back but tried his best at quarterback),” Pine River coach Chad Phillips said.

Phillips said he wasn’t sure of the extent of Nelson’s shoulder injury but admitted, “it doesn’t look good.”

When the Bucks scored first, the home crowd might have sensed a possible repeat at the same field two years ago when an 0-3 Bucks squad upset the 3-0 Wildcats.

“We came out and had a nice drive and a nice touchdown pass but it was unfortunately too shortlived,” Philips said. “We didn’t get many stops on them defensively.”

“We talked about that a lot this week with our kids having to be mentally as well as physically prepared,” Craven said. “We had a couple of lapses in our coverage But our kids answered the bell everytime and I was proud of them for that.”

Evart scored on the first drive of the second half on a 3-yard keeper by Fortune. That gave the Wildcats a 35-point lead and turned on the running clock.

There was no scoring in the fourth. VanBuren’s 25-yard field goal try failed late in the game.

Grein gained 153 of Evart’s 358 yards on the ground. Danley rushed for 63 yards.

“We want to be able to mix it up and have multiple angles of attack,” Craven said. “The kids up front are ding a good job. They keep getting better and better.“

Grein killed us on both sides of the ball,” Phillips said. “They’ve got some good players. They won the line of scrimmage clearly. (Grein) is an all-state level player if you ask me.”

Nelson passed for 113 yards before leaving the game while Wieczorek rushed for 63. Evart improves to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Highland. Pine River is 1-4 and 0-2.

Pine River plays at Friday at Manton while Evart is home with McBain.

As a part of the game, the Pine River and Evart communities teamed up to raise more than $1,000 dollars for the VFW Unmet Needs program. The Unmet Needs program assists military service members and their families who run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment.

EVART 49, PINE RIVER 14

Evart 14 28 7 0 -- 49

PR 6 8 0 0 -- 14

First quarter

  • PR -- Skyler Nelson 49 pass to Ethan Whitley (run fails) 9:32
  • E -- Ricky Miller 3 run (VanBuren kick), 6:10
  • E--Derek Bowen 5 run (VanBuren kick), 1;52.

Second quarter

  • E--Austin Grein 2 run (kick fails), 10:40
  • PR--Nelson 45 pass to James Harvey, 8:06
  • E--Jacob Fortune 6 run (Fortune pass to Bowen), 6:25
  • E---Grein 70 run (VanBuren kick), 3;51
  • E--Fortune 5 run (VanBuren kick), 0:17.3

Third quarter

  • E--Fortune 6 run (VanBuren kick), 6:52.
  • Fourth quarter
  • No scoring.

Passing: Evart 3-5-1-64 (Fortune 3-5-1-40). Pine River 5-15-0-113 (Skyler Nelson 5-13-0-113,

Rushing: Evart 47-358 (Grein 12-153, Bowen 7-26, Danley 10-63, Miller 7-21, Fortune 6-72, Pattee 2-11, Drake 2-6, Hyde 3-6. Pine River 29-82 (Dakota Wiezorek 14-63, Cason Rawson 5-9, Brandon Fulks 8-18. Nelson 2 (-8), Wieczorek 14-63, Rawson 5-9, Fulks 8-18.

Receiving: Pine River (James Harvey 3-63, Ethan Whitley 1-49). Evart (Hopkins 2-34, Danley 1-6.)