The Wallace County High School Wildcats football team traveled to Tribune on Friday, October 20, to take on the Greeley County Jackrabbits. The Wildcats have won this annual game for 11 straight years. This year, the Wildcats have been battling through a tough season against tough opponents sporting a record of 1 win and 6 losses. The Jackrabbits entered with 4 wins and 3 losses, looking to end the Wildcat win streak.
The Jackrabbits won the coin toss and opted to receive the ball. Champ King kicked off deep and the receiver dropped the ball. Carlin Springsteel covered ground quickly to tackle the runner back at the 8 yard line. The Jackrabbit offense got off to a rocky start with 2 quick penalties and a low snap on one play. Wildcat defenders stopped all 3 run plays, forcing a Jackrabbit punt.
The Wildcats began on the 33 yard line and showed they had a strong running game. Seth Johnson had an 11 yard run and Springsteel followed with 21 yards, breaking many tackles along the way. Luke Johnson ran on the next play and the 3 rushers continued carrying the ball as the team stormed toward the goal line. They pushed through with Seth Johnson scoring the touchdown and Luke Johnson finishing the 2 point conversion. The Wildcats led 8-0 with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
Esteban Rodriguez kicked a line drive that was dropped again by the Jackrabbit player. Wildcat players were quick to tackle him at the 17 yard line. The Jackrabbits ran for 6 yards on their first play. They unsuccessfully threw the first pass of the game on second down and were stopped short on third down bringing up another fourth down. They decided not to punt and went for a pass to the right side. Springsteel made a hard hit that stopped the runner in his tracks, turning the ball over to the Wildcats at the Jackrabbit 23 yard line.
The Wildcats moved fast with 5 running plays, all of them for positive yards, finished by a Luke Johnson touchdown. The Wildcats converted the 2 point play and led 16-0 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
Rodriguez kicked off down the middle and the Jackrabbit runner was tackled at the 22 yard line. The Jackrabbits moved the ball on this drive. They passed for a first down and then ran for another one. They continued down the field, but Wildcat defenders forced a fumble and recovered the ball. The offense came back on the field at their own 25 yard line.
The first offensive play was a long throw that was just missed. The Wildcats got a big play on the next snap as Springsteel broke out for a long run down to the Jackrabbit 22 yard line. The Jackrabbits could not stop the run as good blocking lead to another touchdown. The 2 point conversion put the score at 24-0 with 11:57 left in the second quarter.
For the third time, the Jackrabbits had trouble fielding the kick, this time off the foot of King. The Wildcat defense was ready this drive and quickly stopped 3 plays forcing another punt. The punt was short and the Wildcats started with great field position. It only took 2 plays to score the next touchdown. Luke Johnson threw a 29 yard pass to King and Springsteel ran the ball over on the next play. They scored the 2 point conversion and were up 32-0 with 10:00 remaining in the second quarter.
The Jackrabbits broke through on their next drive. They moved the ball on the ground and in the air as they marched down to the goal line. The Wildcat defense fought back with nice tackles from King and Corbin Smith but the Jackrabbits finally crossed the goal line. A pass play scored the touchdown and a run play added the 2 points cutting the Wildcat lead to 32-6 with 6:19 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcat offense responded quickly after the Jackrabbit kickoff went through the end zone. Springsteel and both Johnsons carried the ball for big yardage and had the team 5 yards from scoring. A big block from Springsteel paved the way for another Seth Johnson touchdown run. Springsteel kept the Wildcats perfect on 2 point conversions to increase the lead to 40-8 with 3:11 left until halftime.
The Jackrabbit possession started well, however a penalty moved them back. A bad snap along with a sack by Evin Bergquist and Smith took away the momentum. After an overthrown pass, the Jackrabbits had to punt. Seth Johnson returned the punt 15 yards, dragging a tackler with him. Springsteel sprinted for 30 yards on the first play and the hurry-up offense pushed forward with little time left on the clock. The team managed the clock nicely and scored the touchdown as time expired. Gaven Schmidt threw an incomplete pass on the 2 point conversion leaving the score at 46-8 at halftime. The Wildcats scored on every possession in the first half.
The Jackrabbits kicked off into the end zone to start the second half but showed they would still have trouble containing the Wildcat run game. Even three offensive penalties could not stop the Cats as they ran the ball methodically down the field. Seth Johnson finished the drive by running 30 yards and through a defender for the touchdown. The score remained 52-8 with 8:52 left in the third quarter after a failed 2 point conversion.
A Jackrabbit penalty and a dropped pass helped the tough Wildcat defense keep this drive to a 3 and out possession. After a booming punt, the Wildcats took the ball at their own 15 yard line. The Wildcats kept the ball on the ground and marched forward. David Korbe carried the ball twice for nice runs and Seth Johnson closed out the game with a long touchdown run. The final score was 58-8.
The Wildcats looked good on all sides of the ball. They showed dominance in the run game with much credit going to excellent blocking. The team gained positive yards on almost every play, constantly moving the first down chains. They did not have to punt in the game. The defense held the Jackrabbit offense in check on every drive except one, and still battled to the end on that drive. The kickoff team was busy after all the scores. They were up to the task every time, preventing any long returns. The Jackrabbits would have to cover the whole field each time they took the ball. The Wildcats will look to repeat this effort vs Triplains-Brewster at home on Thursday, October 26, at 6:00 PM. Show up and support the Wildcat football team in their final game of the season!
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