Call it late-season jitters. Call it the fall equinox affect. Call it anything you want, but last Friday night, things were off-kilter with many football teams finishing conference play with an eye on district playoffs. The Bearcats were no exception. With the field illuminated by game time, holding back the inky black of the shorter days of autumn, Coach Emmons’ team knew they had their work cut out for them, but they have shown winning confidence against strong opponents all season long. Anything could happen. Senior leadership has prevailed, resulting in an impressive 6-2 record before this game.
They have given their fans really good high school football entertainment and though they came up short against a tough Union team, 54-32 last Friday night, they had no reason to hang their collective heads. It was a hard-played game, with a cheap shot that put Trent Anderson out of the game with a concussion, questionable officiating at times and the bitter reflection that always accompanies a loss, to correct mistakes, so those improvements can shine in District play next Friday night at Bearcat Stadium.
First blood Q1
The Wildcats drew first blood, but missed the extra point 6-0. After a stalled set of Bearcat downs, with Union in possession for the second time of the game, Hermann went to work, intercepting a pass to get the ball back and they marched downfield 63 yd. with an effective ground game, to score with 6:40 on the clock. The extra-point kick was good, putting the Bearcats ahead 7-6.
Union returned the favor, getting their ground game underway and scoring from the one yard line, putting them up 12-7, with 3:53 on the clock. Their two-point conversion was stopped.
Hermann couldn’t get their ground game going and had to punt from their 30 yd. line. The Bearcat defense was also having trouble containing Wildcat running back Matt Bray. With a 1st and 10 on the 42, Bray blasted through a big hole for a 30-plus yd. gain, down to the Bearcat 23, just as the first quarter ended. 7-6, Hermann Bearcats.
A tough Q2
With 2nd and three on the 15, QB Derek Hulsey hits receiver Christophe Poinsett for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, making the score 20-7, Wildcats.
Hermann took over on their own 42 and moved the ball, picking up three first downs, driving down to the 36. After a loss of three yd. on the next play, Hermann QB Chase McKague got sacked back on the 45. Battling back to the 35, faced with 4th and 9, McKague throws an incomplete pass to receiver Carter Hemeyer in the end zone with 5:35 left on the clock. The Wildcats took over moving the ball to the 48 yd. line when Wildcat running back Bray broke out for another long run down to the eight yd. line. The Bearcats held until 4th and 9, when Hulsey makes an end-zone reception for the TD, with 3:36 on the clock. The two-point conversion was no good, holding the score at 26-7.
The Bearcats took over on Hermann’s 47 yd. line after a nice 33-yd. reverse return by Holden Ash. On third down and one on the 38 yd. line, a McKague pass to receiving running back Trent Gleason was caught, getting the Bearcats down on the 28 with 1:40 on the clock to end the half and enough time on the clock to score. At 1st and 10 on the 28, QB McKague throws and interception in the end zone, picked off by Wildcat defensive back Donavan Rutledge that was almost a pick-6, when he was pushed out of bounds down on their 30 yd. line.
Unfortunately, an illegal block in the back by Union, put Trent Anderson out of the game. To the Bearcats credit, they held the Wildcats at 4th and five on the seven yd. line before the end of the half. 26-7, Union Wildcats.
In the first half, the Bearcats had 19 rushes for 70 yd. and Chase McKague made three pass receptions from six attempts for 28 yds, for 98 yd., total offense. In contrast, the Wildcats had 152 rushing yd. and QB Hulsey had five of 10 completions for 88 yd. and two TD’s, for 240 total offensive yd.
While the first half was a bit lack-luster, the Bearcats came out the second half to play hard, but still gave up big plays. Bearcat Head Coach Andy Emmons told a radio broadcaster with KLPW (paraphrased),after the game that the team was mad and they came out the second half to rectify the wrongs. Maybe they were trying too hard on the opening receiving kickoff. Keegan Head started off on a very good kickoff return with a faked reverse. Keeping the ball, it got stripped from him on the 39 yd. line.
The Wildcats took over and QB Hulsey threw a strike to Rutledge on the first play from scrimmage for the TD, following up with a kicked extra point, making the score 33-7. This one stung the Bearcats badly, but they showed they weren’t ready to roll over.
The Bearcats received the kickoff and got it to their own 48 yd. line. With 2nd and 7 to go for the first down, on the 49 yd. line, running back Brennan Knipping breaks loose and runs to the 18 yd. line. Then QB McKague hits Brody Fredrick for an eight yd. completion to the 10 yd. line. With QB McKague rolling with the option, he keeps the ball and cuts upfield for the touchdown. The extra point kick was good. 33-14, Wildcats.
Then it was the Wildcat Hulsey-Rutledge-Bray show again. Taking over after an unsuccessful on-sides kick attempt on the 49 yd. line, Bray bolts for 18 yds to the 32. The Bearcat secondary covered the Wildcat receivers well on the next two downs and QB Hulsey was sacked for a five yd. loss. At 4th down and 15 yd. on the 37, QB Hulsey flips to running back Bray on a delayed screen pass to get the ball on the eight yd. line. Again, the Bearcat defense held, but on 3rd and goal on the 10, QB Hulsey finds receiver Rutledge wide-open in the end zone for the score with 6:22 on the clock. The extra point kick is good, bringing the score to 40-14, Wildcats.
The Bearcats could not move the ball on the next set of downs, but Trent Gleeson changed the Bearcats luck when the Wildcats got the ball back. Gleeson stripped the ball from QB Hulsey, picked the ball up and ran it in for the touchdown with 3:00 on the clock in Q3. The extra-point attempt was not successful so the score stood at 40-20.
After the kickoff, the Bearcats offense held and the Wildcats had to punt. QB Hulsey (also the punter) got hit before he could set up to punt and Hermann recovered the ball down on their own 18 yd. line. On the first play out of the backfield, QB McKague rolls left, pitches to Gleeson and he runs 18 yd. into the end zone to score. The two-point conversion failed putting the score at 40-26.
After the kickoff, the Wildcats took over behind their 10 yd. line. The first play from scrimmage, running back Bray takes the ball 62 yd. The next play, it was Bray again, for a 30 yard run to score. The extra-point kick was good. 47-26 Wildcats.
When the Bearcats got the ball back, they passed and ground out the yardage down to the Wildcat four yd. line. Gleeson took the ball in for the score, but the team failed to put two more points on the board. 47-32, Wildcats.
It was a short kick to the Wildcats and they got the ball on the 40 yd. line. The Wildcats fumble and Hermann recovers with 7:50 on the clock. The first play from scrimmage is intercepted, but the Bearcats had an illegal receiver downfield, so the play is called back. The next play, Brennan Knipping has the ball, he rolls left and throws into the arms of Wildcat defender Peyton Burke.
In the next set of Wildcat downs, with 7:06 on the clock, Trent Gleeson stripped the ball from the running back and Gleeson took off downfield to score, only to have the play considered dead.
Coach Emmons told John Covington on KLPW’s Sports Club, the play hurt the team’s momentum.
“It was a huge play in the game and the fact we were down two scores at the time . . .,” Coach Emmons started. “The back judge saw the ball get stripped—he threw his beanbag [to mark the ball position]—the white hat [official] was watching the [forward play] progress and blew the whistle on progress, saying later, he was blocked from seeing the ball. The official came over to me and said ‘Coach, I made a mistake. You guys stripped it clean and had the ball—forward progress had stopped and I didn’t realize the ball was out (loose), so we’re going to give you the ball because of my mistake—I’d blown the whistle.’”
Coach Emmons said when he heard the whistle, Trent Gleeson already had the ball in his possession. He said he wasn’t upset with the official (“people make mistakes”), but recognized the boost it would have given the team, to be down by only one score at that point in the fourth quarter.
Getting the ball back, QB McKague threw a pass that was intercepted by Wildcat defender Nick Luechtefeld. Then QB Hulsey threw a 73 yd. strike up the middle to receiver Burke taking it in for the TD. The extra point kick was good. The score board read 54-32 to end the game for the Union Wildcat victory.
Explaining the evening’s performance, he said the kids were inspired.
“They played the way we are capable of—not in the first half—but I have to give Union credit for the good job they did with their offense,” he said. “We were having trouble stopping them, but [later in the game], we were doing things much better defensively. It gave us a chance.”
The Hermann Bearcats will face-off against the Montgomery County Wildcats in Class 2 District 5 play this Friday night at Bearcat Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.