Tribe Drops Homecoming Game, Cougars Lose on the Road at Midland

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Mohawk captains Gabe Gilbee (50), Dayton Gilkison (41) and Seth Lacey (57) meet the Melbourne captains, including Conor Fogle (15) for the coin toss prior to Friday night's homecoming game.

Both of our local teams dropped conference games last Friday, as week seven of the 2014 was completed. The Mohawks fell to the highly-talented Melbourne Bearkatz at Parker Field for homecoming, while the Cougars fell at Midland as the Mustangs posted the first win the history of the program.

Mohawks vs Bearkatz

"We may have our hands full with a couple of their guys," Mohawk Head Football Coach Michael Harrell surmised of the Tribe's visitors Friday night as the Melbourne Bearkatz visited Parker Field. Preparing to coach his first homecoming contest, Harrell had truly done his homework well as the talents of Melbourne's Conor Fogle and Dalton Romero spoiled the Tribe's night 36-14.

Tommy Stokes follows the block of Chase Jackson on what would become a touchdown carry during Friday night's game with Midland in Rector.

Already hampered by injuries along the line, the Mohawks went into the contest hoping to hang with the explosive Bearkatz. And, in the early going the Piggott defense did an outstanding job of containing the Melbourne offense, thanks in part to a number of well-timed penalty flags. But, the Tribe also had their issues with the penalty flag on the night, as two touchdowns were called back on infractions.

With PES student Dayton Gilkison serving as one of the captains, along with injured linemen Seth Lacey and Gabe Gilbee, the coin toss was held at mid-field and the Mohawks would get first shot on offense. The Bearkatz then chose to kick short, apparently in an effort to keep the ball out of the hands of the fleet-footed return men, only to have Piggott's Bret Fuller scoop it up and carry it 68 yards for a touchdown. The Mohawks then lined up to go for two, but Garrett Cook was stuffed short of the goal line.

Fired-up by the early lead, the Mohawk defense then responded with a strong stand on Melbourne's first possession, as Jonathan Morgan came up with a fumble recovery to end the threat. But, on the Tribe's ensuing drive they also turned the ball over, as a Logan Dixon to Nick McKinnie pass was hauled-in by the Melbourne defender.

Piggott defensive end Bret Fuller (3) draws a bead on the Melbourne Bearkatz's talented running back Dalton Romero during Friday night's homecoming contest at Parker Field.

As the first quarter drew to a close the Bearkatz were facing a first and 20 from the Mohawk 34. Then, on the first play of the second quarter Fogle connected on a touchdown pass to Bryan Hutchinson. The PAT was also good, and Melbourne took a 7-6 lead.

On the following kickoff Piggott's Bradley Stephens got a good return, but the drive bogged down as the Tribe was unable to establish the inside running game. The Tribe turned the ball over on downs, setting up an 8 yard touchdown run by Romero.

The Bearkatz also scored again later in the quarter, and extending their lead. But, on the ensuing kickoff Stephens gathered the ball up and took it all the way back 65 yards for a touchdown--only to have the play called back on a block from behind. Later in the game Dixon would also have a long touchdown run called back, as the Mohawks were flagged for a motion penalty on the play.

As for the Bearkatz, they continued to dominate both sides of the football throughout the mid stages of the game behind the running of Romero and the running and passing of Fogle. This led to three more unanswered touchdowns, as the visitors continued to extend their lead.

Late in the half Romero would add one more touchdown, taking it in from seven yards out. This time the two point conversion was good, and the score stood at 36-6.

As the fourth quarter wound down both teams substituted freely, and with time running out Piggott's Garrett Cook capped a strong drive with a five yard touchdown run. Cook then added the two-point conversion and the final score was set.

McKinnie and Stephens each could only muster 19 yards rushing against the stingy Bearkatz defense, while Landon Williams finished with 13 yards on five carries. Meanwhile, Romero led all rushers with 176 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. Fogle was 10 of 24 passing for 174 yards and two more touchdowns, and added another on the ground. As a team the Bearkatz had 475 yards in total offense while the Mohawks were limited to just 81, all on the ground.

Leading the Mohawk defense was Fuller with 8 tackles, while Trace Stallings had 7 and Stephens, McKinnie, Samples, Morgan and Eli Smith each had 5 tackles.

With the loss the Tribe falls to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in 3A-3 conference play. Friday night they'll be on the road at Manila to take on the Lions, kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Cougars at Mustangs

Friday night's game in Rector featuring the hosting Cougars and the visiting Mustangs from Midland was a back-and-forth, hard-fought contest between two teams struggling to build their football programs. The 2014 campaign marks the first time either school has fielded a varsity team in recent years, and the programs came into the night seeking their first win of the season. Midland emerged the winner, squeaking by the Cougars, 30-22.

Midland struck first on the opening possession of the game. The Mustangs' Barrett Mason capped off the 67-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown carry with 6:50 remaining in the open frame. The visitors' try for two was successful, pushing Midland to an 8-0 advantage.

The Cougars were forced to punt on their first possession, but soon had the ball back after senior Blane Murray recovered a Midland fumble at the Mustangs' 46-yard-line. Tommy Stokes, Austin Scott and Danny Hager moved the chains for Rector and Lawson Ford finished things off with a two-yard quarterback-keeper for the touchdown with five seconds left in the opening frame. Hager's carry on the two-point conversion was halted, leaving Rector behind, 8-6.

Midland had a touchdown called back due to holding on their next possession, but would ultimately score with 9:50 left in the first half. Caleb Altom pounded into the Cougar defense with power rushing, ending the series with a three-yard touchdown to wrap the 58-yard drive. Quarterback Austin Passmore carried in the try for two, pushing the visitors ahead, 16-6.

The Cougars threatened twice in the second quarter, but fumbled the ball away on the two-yard-line. The Rector defense fired back, halting the Mustangs at the Midland 15, where an errant snap on a fumble attempt saw the ball bounce out the rear of the end zone for a safety, giving the Cougars two points and possession. Rector threatened on the ensuing possession, but the charge ended as the boys in blue reached the seven-yard-line on a pass completion from Ford to Hager in the final seconds of the half, coming up just short on a fourth and long. The half ended with the hosts trailing 16-8.

The defenses held firm in the third period, with neither offense able to put together a successful drive.

Tommy Stokes dove into the end zone on a four-yard touchdown romp on the Cougars' first possession of the final frame. Stokes gained the final 11 yards on the drive and joined Hager, Scott and Garrett Buck in carrying the ball on the possession. Rector went to the air on the conversion attempt, but Ford's pass to Hager was incomplete, leaving the Cougars trailing 16-14 with 8:07 left in the contest.

Midland took advantage of field position, going 55 yards on seven plays. Passmore scrambled in for a touchdown from two yards out with 2:55 left in the game. A successful rush on the conversion put Midland in front, 24-14.

Facing third and 11 from the Rector 39-yard-line, Ford hit a streaking Hager with a deep pass for a thrilling 61-yard touchdown with 1:55 left to play. Hager tacked on 24 yards after the catch to secure the critical score. Austin Scott ran in the try for two, bringing Rector back within two points, 24-22.

Rector tried for an onside kick, but Midland held tightly to the ball. With fewer than 20 seconds left in the game, facing fourth and inches, Altom was able to find a seam and break loose for a 42-yard touchdown carry, setting the 30-22 final in place with 10 seconds left in the game. The try for two was denied by Rector.

Ford went to the air on Rector's final attempt of the game, but the pass was intercepted, bringing the night to a close.

The Cougars reached the red zone on six occasions, coming away with three touchdowns. A fumble and two turnovers-on-downs served to end what looked like promising drives for the home team. These near-misses came back to haunt Rector, as noted by coach David Hendrix.

"We didn't capitalize when we got down there," Hendrix said. "You can't get down there like we did and not come away with anything. That's my fault. My playcalling wasn't real good when we got down there."

Though Midland got an early advantage, the Cougars never quit battling.

"I'm proud of these guys," an emotional Hendrix said after the game. "They've got something back here and we're going to work hard to keep building Rector football. We've got a team. We've made great strides from where we were, and we'll continue to do so."

With the loss, the Cougars fall to 0-6 for the season and 0-4 in 2A-3 conference play.

The Cougars are set to visit Cherry Valley beginning at 7 p.m. Friday night to meet the Cross County Thunderbirds.

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