October 30, 2013The Crawford County Wolfpack football team had high hopes of winning their first sectional game Friday night at winless Clarksville. It proved to be a game that went back and forth through 48 minutes, but it was the Generals who came out on top on a touchdown with less than a minute to go, leaving a disappointed Pack walking back to the locker room instead.
"It's tough," Crawford County coach Alan Hess said. "It's a tough one. … Offensively, we did what we thought we'd do. We just didn't show up on defense. It's the big plays. It's been the story all year."
Crawford County got started on the wrong foot with two losses on its first possession that forced it to punt. Clarksville then ran an unexpected hurry-up offense that kept the Wolfpack's defense off balance. With 3:01 to go in the first period, Nate Knight ran into the end zone from a yard out and the Generals were on the board first, 6-0, after failing on the two-point conversion attempt.
Crawford County immediately regrouped and came back with good field position on the kickoff after Levi Schwartz returned the ball to the 45-yard line. The Wolfpack needed just seven plays on the drive to score, as Brandon Cate ran into the end zone from 25 yards. Quarterback Seth Fell kept the ball for the conversion, and Crawford County was out in front 8-6 after one period.
Andrew Wright scored for the Generals with 9:02 to go in the second period and got the two-point conversion to go back in front, 14-8. Besides the hurry-up offense, the Generals were taking the ball right up the middle through the Crawford County defensive line, something Hess wasn't liking as he watched from the sideline.
"We saw it on film," he said. "It's a zone read type. They're running our offense only with a zone read mixed to it. We just didn't play very well up front defensively at all. That's probably the worst game we've played all year up front on the defensive line."
Crawford County's Schwartz again ran the ball to near midfield on the kickoff return. The Wolfpack made good of Schwartz's effort with Cate getting his second touchdown of the night. Crawford County failed on the two-point conversion attempt, leaving the score at 14-all.
The Generals moved the ball quickly down field to the 3-yard line. With 19 seconds left in the half, quarterback Wyatt Kissel kept the ball and ran in to score. Clarksville failed on the conversion attempt, and the Generals went to the locker room up 20-14.
Hess said Clarksville's hurry-up offense was a problem in the first half.
"Early on, it kind of surprised us," the Crawford County coach said. "It's something you can't see on film. We adjusted at halftime and came out the second half and played well. Then, we couldn't get a stop when we needed a stop, third-and-four, third-and-five, third-and-six. It was simple stuff. They probably ran four plays all night. I don't know how many missed tackles we had. It was unbelievable."
Crawford County's defense did a better job to start the second half and forced the Generals to give up the ball on downs.
The Wolfpack's Jacob Mauck had a big gainer for 16 yards then Cate carried the ball to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Andrew Patton got the call and took the ball in to score with 7:31 to go. Fell threw to Mauck for the two-point conversion, and Crawford County was back up, 22-20.
After the Wolfpack defense again forced the Generals to give up the ball on downs, Crawford County marched down the field as Cate got his third TD of the game, this one from 20 yards. Fell found Cate for the conversion, and Crawford County's lead ballooned to 30-20.
Clarksville, however, had a big play in its pocket and it came on the next possession. After the Generals returned the ball to the 31-yard line, Knight broke through the Wolfpack line and found open ground. The Clarksville junior ran for 69 yards, and Kissel got the conversion quickly, closing the gap to two, 30-28, after three quarters.
"We've just got to learn to wrap up better," Hess said.
Crawford County had moved the ball down to the 25-yard line by the end of the quarter. On the third play of the final period, Justin Majors saw daylight on the left side of the goal line and got into the corner ahead of the Generals' defense to score. Cate got his second conversion of the night, and Crawford County was again up by 10, 38-28.
Clarksville had another big play on its next possession when Knight ran for a 46-yard touchdown. Kissel kept the ball for the conversion, and the gap was back to just two, 38-36.
Crawford County failed to score on its next possession, and it was up to the Wolfpack defense to make a stop. The Generals again ran their hurry-up down the field with Kissel moving the ball himself on five straight plays. Knight got the final call and went in to score on a 16-yard run. The conversion failed, leaving the Generals with a 42-38 lead.
Crawford County had one more chance with less than a minute to go. Cate returned the ball to the 42-yard line. The Wolfpack moved the ball to the red zone but ran out of clock, with the Generals ending Crawford County's season with the 42-38 win.
"It goes back, can you be quick enough and strong enough at the point of attack up front to allow things to happen?" Hess asked. "Right now, we're not big enough or quick enough. We're going to lose one kid up front on the defensive line. We'll have everybody back but one on the offensive line that played tonight. We'll have half our backfield back. Half of our receiving core is back."
Crawford County will lose nine seniors, all of whom challenged the underclassmen right after the game to get in the weight room and work on getting stronger.
"What we've got to do in three years is have our freshmen, who are all here now … we've got to have them plus some playing," Hess said. "That's where it's going to get fixed. We can't wait until we're seniors and come out. I'm not trying to knock on Zach (Thomas) and Brandon (Cate) and Cameron (Sillings) and Justin (Majors) and Kyle (Neal) and Todd (Lang), the list goes on. What they did to help this program start to develop, we owe them a lot."
Hess said he is already looking toward next year.
"As long as I'm here, we're going to play hard," he said. "I think they know that. I think that mentality carries over. It's a good group of kids, and you hate to see it end. Six teams in the state of Indiana are not going to have this feeling at the end of the year. The rest of the 300 and some-odd of us will. It's unfortunate to happen now. Next year, you start getting ready for it right away and shoot to play in November."