Turnovers, missed opportunities cost Cashton
Turnovers, pentalites and missed opportunities cost the Cashton Eagles Friday night in a nonconference football battle with Highland at Cashton Village Park.
The Eagle gridders fell 22-7 in a game that was closer than the score indicates.
Giving up four interceptions, including one in the end zone, as well as a fumble and 13 penalties for 100 yards, the Eagles failed to soar despite taking an early lead.
“We just have no continuity. No drive,” head coach Jered Hemmersbach said after the game, noting his team’s inexperience (the Eagles have just five seniors on the roster) and injuries have lead to a 1-5 season.
“Some of it’s just discipline,” the coach added. “We’re young. That’s the reality of it.”
The Eagles got off to a good start, although both teams were stopped on opening drives, with Cashton getting the ball deep in its own territory on the five.
After a run to the 15, junior quarterback Cole Ripley hit Trevin Freit for 25 yards, setting up a long connection with senior Brady Butzler down the Cashton sidelines and Butzler outraced Cardinal defenders for a 60-yard touchdown with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter.
Ripley’s extra point made it 7-0.
Cashton had another opportunity when they recovered a Highland fumble on the next series on the Cardinal 37 and thought they had a touchdown on a pass play, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
Two plays later, Highland’s Peyton Coyier intercepted a Ripley pass.
That started a 75-yard drive by the visitors that included a touchdown-saving tackle by Ripley.
Highland eventually got to the 17, but could get no closer, as a bad snap on third down drove the Cardinals to a fourth and eight and an incomplete fourth-down pass gave the ball back to Cashton on the 25.
Cashton got another drive going with a 20-yard completion to Garrett Olson, but an interception by Gabe Benish gave the ball back to Highland on its own 46.
On the very next play, quarterback Coyier found freshman Isaac Michek on a 54-yard pass play that was helped by a missed tackle.
Coyier went up the middle for the extra points, giving Highland an 8-7 lead at the 4:30 mark in the second quarter.
Cashton got a short field with a short kick, starting on its own 39, converted a fourth-and-one on a quarterback sweep and then had three more first downs to the five yard line on another pass to Freit with less than a minute remaining.
But lack of timeouts and a quarterback sack foiled the effort and the score remained 8-7 at halftime.
Hemmersbach said that series cost them momentum and possibly the game as Highland’s defense would “bend, but didn’t break,” according to Cardinal head coach Mike Aide.
“That was a huge momentum changer,” said Aide. “If it could have gone the other way, we’d have been in trouble. We finally had some things go our way.”
Highland’s defense kept the Eagles at bay, while Cashton failed to stop the Cardinal running game of senior Adam Wolfe, who had 69 yards in 19 carries. Coyier added 146 in 18 carries.
Wolfe scored the back-breaker touchdown for Highland at 4:54 on a three-yard run, capped by another Wolfe two-point conversion run that gave Highland a 16-7 lead.
A fumble recovery by Cashton’s Devin Olson helped the Eagle gridders mount another drive that started on their own 40, and a pass play to Butzler gave the Eagles a first down on the 22 before Ripley threw an interception into the end zone to Iassac Kutzke, resulting in a touchback instead of a tighter score with 8:49 remaining in the fourth.
Highland put the game away for good with a 25-yard pass play from Coyier to senior Mitchell Welsh, who was converted from a lineman.
An extra point pass failed, resulting in the 22-7 lead for Highland with just 2:18 left.
“I was very proud of our guys,” said Aide of his Cardinals, noting his five seniors “hauled us through the battle” and noted some players are beginning to step up into leadership roles as his team goes to 2-4 for the season after losing a starting quarterback and tailback early in the year.
Hemmersbach said injuries have plagued his team all year, noting they started the game with five players on the bench and added another pair Friday.
Ripley had nine of 19 completitions for 182 yards for Cashton, with Butzler catching three for 89 yards, Freit with three for 56 yards and Garrett Olson with two catches for 37 yards.
Defensively, Butzler shined for the Eagles with seven tackles, while Devon Olson had six and Ripley added five.
Coyier was three for six for 97 yards for the Cardinals, who won the total yards battle, 317-262, picking up 220 on the ground.
Cashton fell to 1-5 overall with the nonconference loss.
The Eagle gridders looking to snap a three-game losing skid Friday night, when they travel to Necedah for a 7 p.m. Scenic Bluffs Conference battle.