A great year of regular season football is wrapping up this week. The past two weeks have cleared up some of the questions that were outstanding in the NUIC South, as well as where teams will fall in the potential post-season 1A rankings and brackets. However, one big question that remains unanswered is whether or not EPC will be a part of that postseason. The Catz are 4-4 losing tough match-ups to Du-Pec, West Carroll, Dakota, and Aquin. Three of those teams are playoff bound. A week 9 upset of the 8th ranked Cardinals would go a long way to bolster their playoff odds.
Going into Week 9, Forreston (6-2) has lost two disappointing games to Le-Win in week 7 and against Aquin last week. EPC defeated Amboy 27-6. EPC is led on the ground by Braeden Heeren and Logan Krell. Forreston features a combination of running-backs, wing-backs, and full-backs. Bailey Cullor, Dom Christensen, Ethan Mulder, Jordan Neuschwander, and Braden Politsch get the majority of the touches. The Cardinals have averaged 407 yards on offense and allowed 247 yards on defense. EPC has gained 279 yards on offense and they have allowed 240 yards on defense.
This late season match-up was marked by two great defenses forcing big turnovers. The 1st quarter began with three short drives until Forreston pulled out their patent play action pass. Bailey Cullor faked a hand off and delivered a dime to Jakob Boomgarden who took the ball 41 yards for the first score of the game. The Cardinals converted the 2 point conversion making the score 8-0.
After a great defensive stop by the Cardinals, Forreston took over at their own 35 yard line. The big offensive line for the Cardinals opened up some running lanes driving the ball 34 yards before a fumble was recovered by a couple of Catz defenders with 9 seconds remaining on their own 15 yard line. Forreston was able to recover and stop the Wildcatz forcing a punt. Deep inside their own territory EPC looked to get the ball out of their side of the field, however a short punt combined with a great return by the Cardinals set up the Forreston offense on the 17 yard line of EPC. Six short runs later Ethan Mulder rammed in a 1 yard touchdown run. The two point conversion was good making the score 16-0 Forreston with 6:27 remaining in the half.
EPC needed to get some momentum back in what could be a crucial drive in deciding the game. However the Wildcatz QB Lane Christians was intercepted by the Cardinals DB Lukas Lingel. Forreston took possession deep inside their own territory on the 9 yard line. Looking to get some breathing room the Cardinals decided to keep the ball on the ground and pound the Catz defense. However, four plays later the Wildcat defense forced another fumble which was recovered by Riley Schauer.
This was the best opportunity yet for the Wildcatz and they did not fail to convert. EPC's senior QB Christians connected with WR Jase Sheffey in the endzone for a touchdown. The Catz failed on their 2 point conversion making the score 16-6 with 16 seconds remaining in the 1st half. Forreston ran out the clock and ended the half.
The 3rd quarter opened up with 2 quick drives before EPC took over on offense on their own 40 yard line. Christian dropped back to pass and this time was picked off by Cullor. Forreston took over on their own 37 yard line. The Cardinals wasted no time converting on the turnover. Senior running back Austin Mitchell ran 41 yards for a touchdown. The 2 point conversion was no good making the score 22-6 with 5:40 left in the 3rd quarter.
EPC failed to get the offense going and gave possession back over to the Cardinals on their own 19 yard line. At this point Forreston was looking to put the nail in the coffin. The Cardinals once again coughed up the ball this time fumbling in the backfield, as Paul Sturtevant recovered the fumble for the Catz deep inside Forreston territory. The Catz took possession on the 17 yard line of the Cardinals and 4 plays later Christians connected again in the endzone, this time to Carson Clouse for a 4 yard touchdown pass. The 2 point conversion was good making the score 22-14 Forreston.
The 4th quarter began with a big defensive stop for the Catz giving them the chance to draw the score even for the first time in the game. The Catz took over possession on the 40 yard line in Forreston territory and posted a scoring drive. Christians connected with Braydin Preston for an 8 yard touchdown pass. Looking to tie the score up on the 2 point conversion the Catz turned to their wildcat package however Logan Krell was denied the endzone by the Cardinal defense. The score was now 22-20 with 7:01 remaining in the 4th.
Forreston knew this was their opportunity to seal the game they ran short effective plays picking up 2 big first downs. The Catz killed any chance of getting the ball back when they got penalized first for a holding call and then an unsportsmanlike penalty. The Cardinals were able to kill the remaining time off of the clock and finish off a 22-20 victory.
In the matchup the Cardinals gained 159 total yards on the ground. Ethan Mulder rushed for 56 of those and Austin Mitchell gained 57 yards. EPC was led by the 3 touchdown passes from Lane Christians and some big rushes by Logan Krell who gained 96 total yards.
The Wildcatz (4-5) will miss out on the postseason this season after losing to the Cardinals (7-2). Forreston will find out who they will be playing in round 1 of the 1A IHSA playoffs tomorrow night. Tune into our annual live playoff show that will kickoff at 7:30 pm.