By JUSTIN RAINS
The Cayuga football team showed Friday that it's not which team takes the lead first, or holds it the longest, but the team that has the lead last that matters.
The Wildcats overcame numerous turnovers and an 11-point second half deficit to defeat Kerens, 33-30, here Friday at Scarborough Stadium.
The Wildcats didn't take their first lead of the game until midway through the third quarter, and then had to hold on tight as Kerens tried to mount a furious comeback.
Cayuga took its biggest lead on a four-yard run by D'onte Jackson with just under six minutes to play in the game. The touchdown put Cayuga up, 33-24.
The Wildcats got inside the Kerens five-yard line thanks to a block punt and return by Donald Holly III, after a low snap on the Bobcats punt attempt.
The score capped a 20-0 run by the Wildcats, and looked as if it might have done in the Bobcats.
But, Kerens refused to go away, and quarterback Nate Betts led the Bobcats on a 54-yard drive that he capped with a nine-yard pass to Brett Anderson to the corner of the endzone.
That score cut Cayuga's lead to three, but the Wildcats tried to put the game out of reach by going for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield with just under two minutes to play.
But, Cayuga quarterback Chandler Rigdon bobbled the snap and by the time he gathered it, he didn't have enough time to get the yardage he needed before he was swarmed by the Kerens offense. The Bobcats had life.
Betts led his team down the field, and a Cayuga offsides penalty put Kerens inside the redzone with under a minute to play.
That's as far as they would get, however.
After two incompletions forced a third-and-10, Betts was flushed from the pocket and rounded by up Cayuga defenders, who stripped the ball out of the quarterback's hands.
The Wildcats recovered, sealing the win, which gives them a leg up in the District 6-A, Division I race after the opening round of games.
Kerens led 24-13 late in the third quarter after a 56-yard touchdown run by Rayvon Faulk, the first score for either team in the third quarter.
But, Cayuga answered and answered quickly.
Not two minutes later, D'onte Jackson capped a 54-yard Cayuga drive with a one-yard touchdown run to get Cayuga back to within one possession.
The Cayuga defense then forced a Kerens punt, and the Wildcats again marched down the field.
This time, Wesley Rigdon did the scoring, plunging in from two yards out to give Cayuga its first lead of the night, a 26-24 advantage with just under eight minutes to play in the game. That drive was extended by Chandler Rigdon, who gained four yards on a fourth-and-3 to keep the drive alive.
The Bobcats looked early as if they were going to run away and hide, and Cayuga looked like it might help them do it.
Cayuga fumbled the ball away on its first three possessions, and Kerens led 12-0 early in the second quarter.
The Bobcats got on the board first when Adreon Dans scored from one-yard out, capping a drive that saw Betts run for 52 of the drive's 62 yards.
After Cayuga's first fumble that came inside Kerens territory. Jackson was stripped of the in a big pile-up, and it appeared as if his forward-progress had been stopped.
Kerens directly turned Cayuga's next fumble into points, as Shelton Styles picked up a Cayuga fumble at the Wildcats 17-yard-line and ran in for the score to put Kerens up 12-0.
The only thing that kept Cayuga in the game was its defense, which time-after-time held after those first two drives, even when put in a bad spot by its offense.
Chandler Rigdon led all rushers with 122 yards on 17 carries, while Jackson finished with 89 yards on the ground and Wesley Rigdon had 68 yards.
Chandler Rigdon finished 3-of-5 passing for 52 yards, with Wesley Rigdon catching three passes for 53 yards.
Betts led Kerens with 115 yards on the ground, and also threw for 90 yards on 9-of-16 passing. Faulk ran for 83 yards, and Anderson had 76 yards receiving.