CAYUGA -- The Cayuga Wildcats opened their District 9, 2A, Division 1, competition with a tough matchup at Scarborough Stadium Friday. After a bye week, the 'Cats hosted the Centerville Tigers which Coach Cody Mohan had called "the team to beat in our district", adding, "They are really good. We are going to have to play very hard and match their intensity." His Wildcats did play hard, with the special teams creating several good opportunities, but they also had some critical mistakes that proved too costly. Centerville was consistent, scoring in every quarter, and took this contest 26-6.
This was a game of turnovers, and they started early. On just the second play of the game, a pass by quarterback Cade Mullican was tipped into the arms of a Centerville defender, resulting in an interception. That gave the Tigers possession at Cayuga's 25-yard-line, but the 'Yuga defense, led by Dalton Fitzpatrick and Austin Jenkins, stepped up big and held the Tigers to a field goal attempt, which failed.
The next opportunity for the Wildcats came when they forced a fumble and Carter Grasch recovered. The Cats' offense was not able to capitalize, however.
Centerville's Tigers roared back. A running back found a big hole and was headed for pay dirt, but Casen Grasch chased him down and made a touchdown-saving tackle. The stop, however, only delayed the Tigers capping a 62-yard drive with a touchdown by #C Boss and a PAT by kicker D. Brent.
Early in the second quarter Centerville added a 50-yard drive and score by Boss, bumping their lead to 14-0.
This time the 'Cats had an answer. Logan Vaughan returned the kickoff to the Wildcats' 38, their best field position of the half. Mullican connected with Colton Stephens on a 16-yard reception. Kaden Joyce put together back-to-back runs and picked up another first down. Then Mullican and Jenkins teamed up for receptions of 23-yards and 12-yards, setting up 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard-line. Joyce punched it in on second effort. The drive ate up the first half clock, and the teams went to the locker rooms with Centerville leading, 14-6.
Momentum seemed to remain in the Cats' favor when the teams returned to the field. Cayuga recovered an on-side kick... but soon were punting. On the punt return the Centerville player lost the handle and Toby Murray was there to recover for Cayuga and put the 'Cats offense in possession at the 11-yard line. Three carries came up short and the threat ended when Mullican was sacked on 4th-and-5.
That stop took the wind out of Cayuga's sails. Centerville marched 94 yards and P. Hancock scored. Cayuga's next possession ended in an interception, and Hancock broke free to score the Tiger's final TD.
Cayuga would mount one more promising drive, with good rushing by Casen Grasch, Joyce and Billy Kelly, but that threat was fumbled away inside the Red Zone.
Even though frustrated with the loss, Coach Mohan recognized several players' performances, stating, "Casen Grasch had great effort on both sides of the ball. Kaden Joyce ran the ball well. Dalton Fitzpatrick and Matthew Barber played well on the defensive line and Austin Jenkins caught a couple of good passes."
With this loss, the 'Cats drop to 2-4 on the season. Next week Cayuga continues district play at Normangee, which defeated Leon in their district opener..