CARSON CITY — A year ago, the Evart Wildcats ended the season of the Carson City-Crystal Eagles in the first round of the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
On Friday night, the Eagles returned the favor with a defensive led 21-6 win at home over the Wildcats. The win improved the Eagles to a perfect 10-0 this season.
Carson City-Crystal’s offense started slow, but its defense was stellar all night long.
“When you get in the playoffs, everyone is good,” Eagles coach Devin Pringle said. “They (Evart) were physical and we knew they would be. They gave us everything we wanted from that end.”
Evart (7-3) had two great scoring chances in the first quarter as its first two possession started at the Eagles 27- and 18-yard lines. They could only capitalize on one, though.
The first drive stalled inside the 10-yard line on a fourth down incomplete pass in the end zone. The second drive resulted in a two-yard run by Derek Bowen late in the first quarter. A missed extra point gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead with 2:57 remaining.
Following an Eagles turnover on downs, the Carson City-Crystal defense forced it’s first of three turnovers on a fumble recovered by sophomore Dallas O’Green.
Carson City got on the board and took the lead with 2:15 to go in the second quarter on a four-yard touchdown run by Will Beedy.
The Eagles ended the half with a red zone stop in the final seconds. Eagles senior Garner Cusack helped to hold a 7-6 lead with three pass breakups in the closing seconds.
“If feels great to beat them. It was really fun out there,” Cusack said. “We have what, 10 or 12 seniors out there? Each one of us has a lot of heart. We talked with the underclassmen before the game about how much we need to win this game.”
Cusack gave the Eagles all the momentum they would need in the second half with an interception on the first Wildcats’ drive of the half.
“That was huge. That kid is a warrior,” Pringle said of Cusack. “He is 140 pounds of dynamite.”
“I just read the ball and the kid had it in his hands,” Cusack said. “I just pulled it out and almost lost it. I tried to run it all the way back, but they got me.”
Carson City took the lead with 8:12 remaining in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run by O’Green The extra point failed giving the Eagles a 13-6 advantage.
Evart was stopped on its next possession, which set up the Eagles final score to seal the win.
Robert Failing capped the Eagles scoring with a one-yard run with just 3:32 remaining. Eagles quarterback Rhett Pringle ran in the two-point conversion for a 21-6 lead.
“Our seniors were up for this. They had a little revenge in mind,” Pringle said. “I feel great for them. We will enjoy this tonight and then start worrying about the next one.”
Carson City-Crystal rushed for 200 yards on 52 carries.
Beedy led the way with 61 yards. Pringle added 39 yards, Failing had 37 yards and Arron Haines 26 yards.
The Eagles will host Pewamo-Westphalia in the district finals next week. Pewamo advanced with a 57-21 win over Saugatuck.
“We have PW (Pewamo-Westphalia) next week,” Cusack said. “We just have to prep really hard, come back and get after them too.”