It was important for the Van-Far/Community R-VI football team to take care of the football last Friday night if they were going to knock off a Wright City squad that beat them by 33 points last year.
Unfortunately, three first-half fumbles were just too much for the Indians to overcome in a tough 26-14 loss to the Wildcats.
“I felt like we let one slip away from us,” said Indians’ head coach Kevin Baldwin.
After the Indians’ first offensive drive was stalled on the Wildcats’ 27, Wright City wasted little time throwing the ball in wet conditions.
They connected on a 71-yard touchdown pass on the first play. Verlyn Johnson blocked the extra-point kick to keep the score at 6-0.
A second Indians’ drive was followed two plays later by a 45-yard touchdown pass for a Wildcats’ 12-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
A third straight offensive drive that stalled for Van-Far/Community R-VI gave Wright City field position near midfield.
On their first play, another 45-yard touchdown pass gave them an 18-0 edge.
Two straight possessions with Indians’ fumbles gave Wright City back the ball. Fortunately, the Indians’ defense responded by finding its footing and stopping Wright City’s high-powered offense.
After a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown was called back due to a Wildcats’ penalty, Logan Wilson intercepted a tipped pass to give the Indians the ball at midfield with 3:56 left in the first half.
Van-Far/Community R-VI then marched 56 yards on eight plays. Verlyn Johnson had a 27-yard run, Eric Hombs connected with Treyson Culwell for an eight-yard passing play, then Hombs scored on a six-yard touchdown run.
Hombs converted a two-point conversion to close the gap to 10 points just before halftime.
Wright City almost had a 71-yard kickoff return for a touchdown before the half but it was called back due to a holding penalty.
Wright City had 209 passing yards in the first half while the Indians had just 33 yards passing and 91 yards rushing for 124 total yards of offense.
Wright City’s offense started the third quarter with a methodical march down the field.
After starting on their own 37, they took six plays to get to the Indians’ 9. A fourth down pass was then knocked down in the end zone by Wilson.
The Indians’ defense forced a fumble to stall the Wildcats’ next drive on the Van-Far/Community R-VI 13-yard line.
Both teams were held scoreless for the remainder of the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass. An added two-point conversion passing play gave them a 26-8 lead.
Both offenses had three-and-outs before the Indians’ offense started a drive on their own 19 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Verlyn Johnson’s 14-yard run, a pair of 16-yard runs from Morgan Slatten and Hombs, were joined by Hombs’ 21-yard passing play with Verlyn Johnson on the drive.
Verlyn Johnson then scored on a nine-yard touchdown run. The two-point run failed, keeping the score at 26-14.
Down 12, the Indians’ offense got the ball back with 3:28 left in the game but they turned the ball over on downs.
In the win, Wright City’s offense had 334 passing yards and 366 yards of total offense.
The Indians had just 54 yards rushing and 72 yards passing for 226 total yards of offense.
Verlyn Johnson led the Indians’ offense with 13 carries for 76 yards and one touchdown. He also caught one pass for 21 yards.
Hombs completed 4-of-12 passes for 54 yards. He added 26 carries for 91 yards, three fumbles, and one touchdown.
Slatten had five carries for 25 yards along with one catch for 21 yards.
Culwell had one catch for eight yards.