Miscues doomed the Whitewater Wildcats against a strong team. The Wildcats saw plenty to build on in a narrow 17-14 loss to the East Coweta Indians.
Whitewater knew they needed to play a tight game to topple a AAAAAA playoff team. They played well, but a few key plays made a difference.
“I feel like we just as easily could’ve won this game as lost it, but you can’t come out here and make those mistakes against a good team,” said Whitewater coach Amos McCreary.
Despite the final score, there were positives to pull away. The Wildcats, now a AAAA team, could have beaten a good team from the highest classification. They know they’ll be ready when region play gets underway soon.
“We missed some scoring opportunities. We made mistakes and they didn’t. But I really, really liked our effort on both sides of the ball,” McCreary said. “If we can tighten up some things, I think we’ll be fine going into the region.”
Whitewater would start the game fast. Jonathan Womack returned the game’s opening kickoff into East Coweta territory, setting his team up with excellent field position. The Cats drive nearly stalled, but a gutsy call to go for it on fourth and one paid off. Christian Wafford took the snap out of the Wildcat formation and beat the defense for a 20 yard touchdown. Liam Voigt’s extra point staked them to a quick 7-0 lead.
East Coweta responded with a score on their opening possession. The Indians went to the air, and added a little trickery on the way. Will Laguardia and Jacob Bergstrom connected for a key 15 yard gain into Wildcat territory. They then mixed things up with a reverse wide receiver pass that saw EJ Ransom hit Devonte Brown for a 20 yard touchdown to knot up the score.
Whitewater would next find the end zone in the second quarter, again picking up a key fourth down conversion to maintain the drive. Facing a fourth and two on the Indian 30, Wildcat quarterback Jay Ashley bootlegged around the end, but looked to be stopped dead in his tracks by the defense. Ashley made a heads up play, shoveling the ball to Avery Roth, who moved the chains. Ashley finished off the drive, finding Wafford open on a wheel route for a 30 yard touchdown.
East Coweta cut into the lead in response. The Indians shook off of a Caleb Martinez sack by converting a third and 11 with a 12 yard pass from Laguardia to Chaz Cherry. The drive stalled, but Cole Antley drilled a 36 yard field goal to make it a 14-10 lead heading into the half.
The third quarter was a disaster for the Wildcats, as both of their possessions ended in turnovers. After East Coweta’s first series ended with the missed field goal, the Indians snuffed out the Wildcats turn with a Dawson Ellis fumble recovery. Setting up in Wildcat territory, the Indians took advantage. Laguardia hit Reagan Thomas on a slant for a 32 yard gain. Laguardia capped it off, narrowly scoring from one yard out on fourth and inches to put the Indians ahead 17-14.
Whitewater looked like they were ready to strike back. Wafford returned the kick back close to midfield, then Ashley hit Ian McInthyre for a 15 yard pick up on a swing pass. Ashley converted yet another fourth down with a seven yard scramble before the drive fell apart. The Indians pounced on a backwards pass to kill the drive on the 18 yard line.
The fourth quarter was full of missed opportunities for both sides. East Coweta had a chance to add to their lead after the turnover, but a wide open touchdown pass was dropped. Whitewater had their next look taken away with a Makenzie Martin interception on a fourth and 19 attempt. Whitewater’s defense come through with a stop, but another desperation pass would be picked off by Isaiah Gemmel. That didn’t go smoothly for the Indians though, as Gemmel would be stripped on the return to give the Wildcats one last gasp. Out of timeouts, a big tackle by EC’s Michael Singleton on a short pass ensured the time would run out on Whitewater’s comeback bid.
Whitewater (2-1) hosts Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy this week, while East Coweta (3-0) gets a week off.