EVART — Carson City-Crystal was looking for its first football playoff win since 1999. Evart was looking for its first playoff win ever.
It wasn’t an easy victory, but Evart was the team to come out on top with a 16-12 win. The Wildcats overcame four turnovers and stopped a late Carson City (7-3) drive on fourth down to secure the victory.
“We capitalized on their mistakes, but we made some ourselves,” Evart coach Pat Craven said. “I thought our defense played a really, really great game. We gave up one big play, but overall our defense hung tough and kept us where we needed to be.”
Evart’s (8-2) fourth turnover gave the Eagles one final chance to take the lead.
Starting their final drive from the 39-yard with just 4:46 remaining in the game, the Eagles drove to the Wildcats’ 43-yard line. Three unsuccessful plays left the Eagles with fourth down and nine yards to go.
Will Beedy took the Eagles’ handoff, went left and had a field of green in front of him. What looked like a potential touchdown turned into a game-saving ankle tackle by Evart’s Jake Pattee just a few yards shy of a first down.
“The play was called a fullback wrap draw. Michigan State ran a lot of it in the past. We get the defense to flow one way and we do a wrap behind the quarterback’s back,” Eagles coach Jason Gray said. “It’s a great play. We were one block away from that being a touchdown and us on the other end of this game.”
“If he doesn’t make that play, the other crowd might be singing,” Craven said of Pattee. “He is a crafty little bugger and he is sneaky when he tackles the ankles. He is good in the open field and I’m glad he is good in the open field.”
Gray expected the game to be a hard fought defensive battle between two similar teams, which it was.
“Our defense came in and played physical. They played as well as they possibly could have,” Gray said. “We slowed their offense down. They scored over 300 points this year and we held them in check.”
Evart got on the board first with a safety with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter. The Eagles defense just completed a goal-line stand, but the offense couldn’t make up any ground from the poor field position.
“We got put back on our inch-line and it’s tough to get out of there. We did the best we could,” Gray said. “We tried to get out and we were an inch into the end zone for the safety.”
A bad snap on a punt by the Eagles set up the first touchdown for the Wildcats late in the first quarter. The Wildcats recovered the snap at the Eagles’ 12-yard line and found the end zone on a six-yard run by Derek Brown for a 9-0 advantage.
The Eagles responded with an 8:22 drive, capped off by with a nine-yard touchdown run by Robert Failing with 3:22 remaining in the first half. A missed two-point conversion made the score 9-6.
In the second half, it was another Eagles mistake that set up an Evart score. This time a blocked punt gave Wildcats the ball at the Eagles’ 20-yard line.
Three plays later, John Danley scored from three yards out for a 15-6 lead.
Carson City-Crystal scored its second touchdown on a 65-yard run by Arron Haines late in the third quarter.
“We preach passion and heart and they played for four quarters,” Gray said. “If we get a couple of breaks our way we are on the other end of the scoreboard. Our kids understand what playoff football is all about now and we are going to keep moving forward.”
Haines finished the game with 100 yards rushing on 12 carries. Beedy rushed for 53 yards.
“I told them I’m proud of them. They have nothing to hold their heads low about,” Gray said. “They have done something I said they would three years ago. They have turned the corner in this program. We are going to be successful from here on out. I’m very proud of our kids.”
Evart will travel to Lake City next week in the district final. Lake City defeated NorthPointe Christian 35-28.