9/23/2022 11:10:00 AM 'Cats lament another tough loss to Becker after late missed FG
Becker 14, Chisago Lakes 13 Trailing 14-13 to the Becker Bulldogs, the Wildcats went on an epic 23-play, 84-yard drive that took up more that half of the fourth quarter. They were in a position to win with a 25-yard field goal attempt with 14 seconds remaining, but kicker Bryce Morley’s attempt sailed wide right, and the Wildcats fell 14-13. The game was played Friday, September 16 at Becker High School.
It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Wildcats when the state semifinalists from last year took just four plays and 1:14 to score on their opening drive to go up 7-0. But the Wildcat defense stepped it up after that and didn’t allow any points the rest of the game. The Wildcats were forced to punt on their first drive of the game. Bulldog Mitchell Soltau fielded the punt at his own 30-yard line and returned it 26 yards to give his team great field position at the Wildcat 44. On third and 13 from the 47, Becker quarterback Ryan Bengston overthrew his receiver by a couple of yards, and Wildcat defensive back Jack Walker intercepted the pass at the 20 and returned it to the Wildcat 35-yard line.
The Wildcats moved the ball well on the ensuing 12-play drive. But after a couple of poor pitches recovered by Wildcat running backs, they faced fourth and 12 from the Becker 22. Wildcat quarterback Tyler Drury threw to Evan Lavalle, but Lavalle was stopped three yards short of the first down. Becker again moved the ball down the field well and faced fourth and goal at the three-yard line. A hole opened up on the handoff, but Nate Bluhm stepped into the breach, wrapped up the runner and took him down a yard short of the end zone. Just three plays later, on third and six from the five-yard line, Drury fumbled the snap and a Bulldog player fell on it just over the goal line for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 with about six minutes to go in the first half.
The Wildcats controlled the ball well again, this time going on an 11-play drive. The drive stalled at the Becker 39, and a very short punt out of bounds by the Wildcats gave Becker the ball with 48.8 seconds left in the half. A 30-yard run on the second play of the drive moved the ball deep into Wildcat territory. The Bulldogs attempted a 34-yard field goal as time expired, but it sailed wide right, keeping the halftime score at 14-0. The Wildcats started the opening drive of the second half from their own 20. On second and seven from the 23, Drury pitched the ball to Josh Byrne, and he took off around left end. He ran down the left sideline and was knocked out of bounds at the Bulldog 33. Three plays later, on first and ten from the 20, Drury called his own number, stepped through a hole on the left side of the line, bounced off three tacklers and went into the end zone standing up with 9:33 left in the third quarter. Morley’s extra point was good, and the Wildcats had cut the lead to 14-7. The Bulldogs moved the ball well again on their next drive and faced second and six from the Wildcat 20. But on the next play, the Wildcats knocked the ball loose and Maddox Olson revered it for the Wildcats, thwarting Becker yet again.
Starting from the 17, the Wildcats went on an 11-play drive, highlighted by four carries totaling 36 yards from Drury. On second and six from the Bulldog 19, Drury pitched the ball left to Blake Schmidt. Schmidt went around left end and headed down the sideline. He was hit from the right side at the three but stayed in bounds and dove into the end zone for a touchdown. Morley’s extra point attempt went wide right, and the Wildcats trailed 14-13 with 14.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
The theme of long drives continued, with Becker going on a 12-play drive that ate up the first several minutes of the fourth quarter. On fourth and six from the Wildcat 12, Bengston threw over the head of his well-covered receiver in the middle of the end zone, and the Wildcats took over on downs. With Drury and fullback Evan Lavalle doing much of the work, the Wildcats went on the aforementioned 23 play drive, which featured five third down conversions. But after the missed field goal, the game ended in disappointment.
Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss said “Becker a good team and it’s hard to stop them, but we were able to slow them down. It was bend but don’t break thing that was as much bend as they could possibly give – we kept them out of the end zone with a lot of hard work by our defense.”
“Nate Bluhm had a very good game on defense,” said Weiss, “including the big tackle at the goal line. He was involved in several key tackles and did a nice job setting the edge all night. Becker has a couple of very good wide receivers, and Josh Byrne did a great job holding one of them to minimal impact. On third down late in the game, Josh didn’t let the guy off the line easily, and that negated the play at a crucial time. The whole defensive unit was pretty sold. After the early touchdown, they never let Becker back in the end zone.”
Drury had 27 carries for 114 yards. Weiss said “Tyler did a nice job. We have the kind of offense doesn’t seem to have many big plays but is pretty consistent with four-to-eight-yard gains. Tonight featured a lot of Tyler and Evan on the inside and Blake Schmidt on the perimeter. They kept drives going, kept the chains moving. We controlled the ball well. Becker only had the ball twice in the second half.”
Football Notes It doesn’t get any easier for the Wildcats (1-2), as they will head up to Cold Spring tomorrow night to take on the Rocori Spartans (4-0) at 7 p.m. at Blatter Stadium. The undefeated Spartans beat the Wildcats 40-21 last year and crushed Becker, the Wildcats’ most recent opponent, 31-10 in their opener this year. “Rocori is very talented across the board,” said Weiss. “They returned a lot of guys from last year’s team and they play against a lot of top teams in the state. I am excited by the way our guys responded to the challenge last week as they fought hard down to the wire. I expect the same effort this week as we take on another formidable opponent.”