September 13, 2018 at 3:25 p.m.

Wildcats lose in agonizing way to Cambridge-Isanti

Wildcats lose in agonizing way to Cambridge-Isanti
Wildcats lose in agonizing way to Cambridge-Isanti

With just seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Wildcat football team appeared to be on its way to a 28-21 win over the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets.  But a bizarre play allowed the Bluejackets a chance to tie the game, which they did with no time left on the clock.  The Bluejackets stopped the Wildcats in overtime, and the Bluejackets followed with a score to finish off a 34-28 win over the Wildcats.  The game was payed Friday, September 7 at Chisago Lakes.  
 
Leading 28-21 with the clock winding down at the end of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats faced fourth and five at the Bluejacket 25.  Quarterback David Kimlinger took the snap, turned and ran the other way down the field in an attempt to run out the clock.  He was tackled at the Wildcat 46-yard line.  

Unfortunately, several seconds remained on the clock.  The Bluejackets  threw an incomplete pass on first down.  One second remained on the clock.  Cambridge threw another pass that fell incomplete and it looked like the game was over.  But the Wildcats were called for pass interference.  The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Wildcat 31 and, since the game can’t end on a defensive penalty, the Bluejackets were given one untimed down.  Nelson dropped back to pass and scrambled right, fairly deep in the backfield.  He heaved the ball into the end zone and a wide-open  Luke Malimasuro hauled it in for a touchdown.  The extra point was good, and the game was at 28-28.

“That one was on me,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss.  “Our intent was to run out the clock.  We needed to run a play and I made a wrong decision.  We should have just run a play and let them have the ball back with a few seconds left with no timeouts deep in their own territory.  The kids played well enough to win and we should have won.  I blame myself.  The buck stops here.”

The Wildcats had the ball first in overtime.  In high school overtime, each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line and must score in four plays.  The Wildcats got the ball first.  They gained six yards in three plays.  On fourth down, Kimlinger’s pass was intercepted and the Wildcats came away with no points.  Cambridge then got their shot.  They gained two yards on first down.  On second down, Nelson ran left and beat the Wildcats to the front left corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 34-28 Bluejacket win.

The Bluejackets opened the game with a 14-play drive, pounding the ball right at the Wildcats.  On first and goal from the four, Kaden Slepica scored on a run to the left from four yards out to give the Bluejackets and early 7-0 lead.  The Wildcats responded with a ten-play drive of their own.  ON second and four from the Cambridge 13, Beau Stiller took a pitch left and outran the Bluejackets into the end zone for a touchdown.  The extra point attempt was partially blocked and Cambridge led 7-6.

On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, the Bluejackets appeared to score on an 83-yard run.  But the play was called back because of a holding penalty.  
But it didn’t seem to faze the Bluejackets.  They promptly went on a 10-play drive that ate up the rest of the first quarter.  On the second play of the second quarter, Gaven Ziebarth scored on an 11-yard run and the Bluejackets led 14-6.

After that, the second quarter was all Wildcats.  They went on a 13-play drive.  On third and six from their own 24, Kimlinger completed a 21 yard catch and run to Tim Gregory to keep the drive alive.  Later, on second and goal from the two, Manny Rosario took the handoff, ran left and dove into the end zone for a touchdown.  Rosario made it look easier on the two-point conversion as he waltzed into the end zone through a gaping hole to tie the game at 14-14. 
   
On the ensuing Cambridge drive, the Wildcats forced a fumble deep in Cambridge territory at the 26.  Three plays later, on first and goal from the nine, Kimlinger kept the ball and ran left.  He outraced the defense to the front let corner of the end zone for a touchdown.  After Reece Lawlor converted the extra point, the Wildcats led 21-14.  On the second play of their next possession, the Bluejackets again fumbled and the Wildcats recovered.  Six plays later, on second and goal from the five, Cole Peterson took a handoff to the right and curled around the defense into the end zone for a touchdown.  The extra point was good and the Wildcats led 28-14 at the half.

The Wildcats went three and out on their first possession of the second half.  Cambridge responded with a 10-play drive, but the Wildcats stopped them on fourth and one from the Wildcat 31 and the Wildcats took over.  Unfortunately, they went three and out again.  After a short punt, Cambridge took over on their own 40.
A 32-yard run on first down moved them deep into Wildcat territory.  Five plays later, Nelson hit Austin Chromy with a pass at the eight-yard line.  Chromy waltzed in from there.  The extra point was good and the Wildcat lead had been cut to 28-21.  Neither team scored on their next possession and the Wildcats took over on their own 31 with just a few minutes left in the game.  12 plays got them to the fourth and five situation with time winding down at the Bluejacket 25 and we all know what happened from that point on.

“Despite what happened at the end,” said Weiss, “We’re clearly a very competitive team.  We lost a ton of skill guys from last year, but four of our five starting offensive linemen returned and that makes a big difference.  You can plug in skill guys behind an experienced offensive line and have success.  The opposite, with experienced skill guys behind an inexperienced offensive line, doesn’t usually go as well.  And regardless of the outcome of the game, we are not changing our work ethic.  We are moving forward optimistically.  We keep getting better every week.”

The Bluejackets ran right through the Wildcats early in the game but played a lot better on defense after that.  “We weren’t doing the little things we needed to do to be successful early in the game,” said Weiss.  “One example is Kaleb Bruce.  The first couple of times they ran at him he got knocked down.  But he figured out what he needed to do and every time they ran at him after that he shut them down.  Our two takeaways that resulted in scores were huge.  We always look to take advantage of those opportunities and we were able to score touchdowns after both of them.  Unfortunately, in the second half we really didn’t have a consistent drive.  And you have to give Cambridge a lot of credit.  They are a pretty veteran team with a number of guys who are three-or four-year starters.  When you play a team like that you have to make the most of your opportunities.
 
Football Notes
The Wildcats (1-1) will take on the Andover Huskies (2-0) at Chisago Lakes High School tomorrow night, Sept 14 at 7 p.m.

 “From looking at them on film,” said Weiss, “they put more emphasis on the run than the pass.  They had been pass-heavy the last couple of years.  They are a balanced team who will present challenges for our defense.  And most of their starters returned on defense.  They are a solid, well coached and well-prepared team.  They are the team to beat in our section and our district and they will be a good challenge for us.”

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