September 9, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.
The Wildcats took advantage of three Holy Angels turnovers to build their big early lead. The Stars took the opening kickoff quickly moved deep into Wildcat territory. But on third and 15 from the 24, Jordan Hickcox forced a fumble. Nate Gilman scooped it up and raced 50 yards to the Holy Angels 27 yard line. Three plays later, Lushanko ran it in from the 11 and the Wildcats led 6-0.
The Wildcats recovered another fumble on the Stars first drive of the second quarter and set up shop on the Holy Angels 15 yards line. On the first play, quarterback Jeff Sargeant threw 1 15 yard touchdown pass to Hickcox and a two point conversion gave the Wildcats a 14-0 lead. Just two plays later, Hickcox intercepted a pass in the right flat and raced 76 yards untouched into the end zone to put the Wildcats up 20-0.
On the Wildcats next drive, Gilman and Lushanko ran the ball down to the Stars five yard line. Sargeant hit Danny Kimlinger with a touchdown pass and a two point conversion gave the Wildcats a commanding 28-0 lead. Holy Angels managed to hang onto the ball on their next drive, scoring a touchdown to cut the Wildcat lead to 28-7 at the half.
The Wildcats failed to move the ball on their first drive of the third quarter and were forced to punt. The Stars drove 49 yards in eight plays, capped off by an 11 yard touchdown run on fourth down cut the Wildcat lead to 14 points. Holy Angels continued to move the ball well and scored again near the end of the third quarter to pull within a touchdown at 28-21.
Disaster struck for the Wildcats on their second drive of the fourth quarter. Holy Angels blocked a Wildcat punt and ran it in for a score to tie the game at 28-28. After the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats took over on their own 18 yard line. On third and 8, Sargeant hit tight end Brent Tretsven with a 13 yard pass for a first down. On third and 13 from the 30, Sargeant and Tretsven again combined for a big third down conversion. Tretsven's 23 yard reception put the ball on the Stars 47 yard line. On the next play, Lushanko got around the corner on right end and there was no stopping him. After the touchdown, Kyle Buchanan's extra point gave the Wildcats a 35-28 lead. Holy Angels had two more possessions in the last two minutes, but the Wildcat defense held them off and claimed a big win.
The usually ground-based Wildcats launched 16 passes, catching their fans and likely the Stars off guard. Quarterback Sargeant completed ten of those passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Tretsven was the Wildcats' leading receiver with three catches for 51 yards, and running back Trevor Thurnbeck had the Wildcats' longest reception of the day at 33 yard. Lushanko had a big day, to say the least: he rushed 17 times for 160 yards and a touchdown, ran in two two-point conversions and caught three passes for 18 yards. As a team, the Wildcats rushed 35 times for 195 yards.
So have the Wildcats abandoned the run in favor of an air show? Not necessarily, according to Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. "We took advantage of the situation," said Weiss. "When they crowded the line on us, especially in the second half, we passed the ball a little more to get things going. We're not a passing team, as such, but a running team that passes the ball. We emphasized passing this offseason to give ourselves a little something extra going into the season."
"Our special teams struggled a little in this one and gave them some great field position," said Weiss. "We had an errant fake punt late in the first half and had that punt blocked in the second half. But we won the turnover battle four to nothing, with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions."
Weiss talked about a few of his key performers. He said "Brent Tretsven's two third-down catches late in the fourth quarter were huge in keeping our winning drive going. Cory Lushanko had a heck of a game and Jordan Hickcox came up with some big plays for us, including a forced fumble, touchdown catch and an interception return for a touchdown."
A highlight video of the big win is available at Kare11.com in the prep sports section. The beginning of the video concentrates on the new Holy Angels coach, but the last couple of minutes show the Wildcats running all over the field and Cory Lushanko talking about the game.
The Wildcats (1-0) will take on Spring Lake Park in the home opener this Friday, September 10 at Chisago Lakes High School. The Panther, 4-6 last year, beat Fridley 14-7 last week.