By BRYAN URBACH
JOSHUA — After a solid 8-1 season, the Cayuga Wildcats are out of the playoffs.
Facing off against a solid running team in that of the De Leon Bearcats, the Wildcats struggled all night long in the 36-7 loss to De Leon Thursday in Joshua
Cayuga began the game on a promising note, when on the second play from the line of scrimmage, Cayuga running back Keshawn Jackson took the handoff, broke through the defensive line and sprinted 70 yards into the end zone for the touchdown.
But a penalty on Cayuga brought the ball back to Cayuga’s end of the field, negating the Wildcats' effort to score.
Cayuga later fumbled the ball, eventually leading to a Bearcat touchdown after De Leon ran the ball play after play. The next two possessions for Cayuga also were turnovers and the Wildcats found themselves in a 17-0 hole going into halftime.
While their errors ended up costing the Wildcats the game, Cayuga coach Russell Holden said the team exceeded expectations against what he called a great football team.
“We turned the ball over and made too many mistakes,” Holden said. “You have to give De Leon credit. They are a great football team. They executed well on offense and we had trouble stopping them.
“We knew it was going to be a tough job for us defensively, but you just have to give them a lot of credit,” he said. “They executed their game plan well and they were physical. We just made too many mistakes for us to win tonight.”
The Wildcats did get one touchdown on the night when they ran the ball in from about three yards out. Cayuga had struggled on offense all night before that and Cayuga struggled to keep De Leon out of the end zone. Both of those things combined for a first round exit for the Wildcats.
“It’s been a great season, and that’s the thing I stressed to them most at the end of the game in the huddle,” Holden said. “They had a great senior season. They far exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“This last game didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, but at the end, there’s only one team left. I’m just proud that our team competed the entire game and kept their heads up. They had a great senior season and those guys have nothing to hang their heads about.”