Upset ended Wildcats' undefeated season

Thursday, November 9, 2006
Wildcat power Senior Brian Elkins carries the ball downfield during Cassville's final game of the season against the visiting Indians of Seneca. This season, Elkins rushed for a total of 1,542 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. Democrat Photo (b)

On a cold and windy Saturday morning, the Wildcat football stadium sat barren, where just two days before it was full of screaming fans ready for their team to move into the playoffs. But much like the Saturday stadium, Wildcat fans' hopes for a playoff berth were laid to rest after a surprising turnaround victory by the Seneca Indians last Thursday night.

Seneca came into the contest 7-2 and on a five-game winning tear. The Wildcats came in at 8-0 and were looking to repeat last year's 49-7 victory.

The 'Cats looked capable of doing just that as Jared Bouzek picked off a pass on Seneca's first drive to give the Wildcats the ball on Seneca's 45-yard line. The Wildcats had some trouble moving the ball and faced a fourth and 2 on Seneca's 38-yard line, but Brian Elkins plowed through to give the 'Cats a first down and set them up for a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tim Orrell to Danny Naugle on the next play. Mathew Angel hit the extra point and Cassville went up 7-0.

Seneca punted on their next drive as the Wildcat defense stood strong. However, Elkins showed that he is a multi-faceted player by getting through the line and blocking the punt. This started Cassville deep in Seneca territory and gave them a huge momentum advantage.

On third down and 4 for Cassville, Elkins converted and then the Wildcats went back to the same play with Naugle, which yielded another Cassville touchdown. Angel was good on the point-after and the score was 14-0 in the Wildcats' favor.

Seneca again floundered on their next drive, and Cassville took advantage, converting two key third downs and finally giving the ball to Elkins for a two-yard run into the end zone. Cassville went up 21-0 after Angel's third extra point of the night.

Cassville's secondary came up big on Seneca's next possession. Ryan Rowley picked off his fifth pass of the year and set Cassville up for another easy score. The offense wouldn't disappoint, as just a few minutes later Bouzek carried it up the middle for a four-yard score, making the score Cassville-28 Seneca-0.

The Indians finally found some rhythm on their next drive, managing to drive it all the way to the Wildcats' 24 before turning the ball over on downs. The Wildcats got eaten up on their drive on a reverse that put them in a fourth and 15 situation from their own 19. Cassville was forced to punt for only the second time of the night. The snap for the punt ended up high, and Lane Stubblefield was only able to fall on it for the 'Cats.

This set Seneca up on the 10, and the Indians took advantage of the good field position, throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to put them on the board and back in the game. The half ended with the score at 28-7 in Cassville's favor.

To start the second half, both teams traded off punts for their first drives. In their second drive. the Indians began to find their rhythm. Seneca was able to convert on a risky fourth and 3 on their own 39 and then drove the ball the rest of the way down the field into the end zone. Seneca missed the extra point to make it a 28-13 ball game.

Michael Baker gave the Wildcats good field position on their next drive, returning the ball all the way out to the Seneca 35, but the Wildcat offense was not be able to take advantage, turning the ball over on fourth down. This ended the third quarter with Cassville trying to hold on and Seneca's offense just warming up.

At the start of the fourth, Seneca drove the length of the field, and just when it seemed Cassville's defense might hold, the Indians used a reverse pass to score their third touchdown of the night. Seneca hit the extra point on this one and made it Cassville-28 Seneca-20.

Cassville was then able to drive down the field and scored a touchdown with a scamper up the middle by Orrell. A holding penalty negated the score and the Wildcats fought back to end up in a fourth and goal situation on Seneca's 1-yard line.

The give was to Elkins, but a Seneca defender found his way through and dropped Elkins right behind the line.

The Indians then started on their own 2-yard line, trailing by 8 with 2:51 remaining in the game. Rowley broke up a pass on second down to force Seneca into a third and 10 situation, but the Indians were able to convert it, and on their next play, passed the ball for an 86-yard touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the game was suddenly tied at 28-28.

The Wildcats returned the kick-off to their own 30-yard line and started their next drive. A bad snap put Cassville in an unfortunate fourth and 25 play, which forced the 'Cats to punt. Seneca took the ball back to the Cassville 46 on the return. With 1:20 left on the clock, the Indians passed the ball most of the way down the field and eventually ended up at the Wildcat 11 with 16.9 to play. Seneca went for the end zone once, but Rowley deflected the ball and forced the visitors to go for the field goal. The kick was good, and Seneca ended the game with a 31-28 upset over the Wildcats. The loss was Cassville's first of the season and ended the Wildcats' hopes for a district title and playoff action.

The Wildcats were helped on the night by: Elkins who rushed for 136 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown; Orrell who was six-of-nine on passing for 73 yards and a touchdown; and Naugle who had two receptions for 33 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Cassville was led by: Dannon Rose, nine unassisted tackles and five assisted; Rowley, five unassisted tackles and one interception; and Elkins, four unassisted tackles, two assisted, and one punt block.

Cassville ends the season with an impressive 8-1 record.

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