Friday night found the West Central Area/Ashby (WCAA) Knights hosting the Kimball Area Cubs in varsity football action. Home field advantage proved to spark the Knights as they set up an early lead, held off 4th quarter visitor heroics and sent the Cubs packing with a 26-21 victory.
The first quarter was a defensive battle as both teams jockeyed for field position limiting any form of successful drive out of the other. Late in the 2nd stanza, and on the Knights 5th possession of the game, the first points were posted as WCAA mounted an eight play, 64 yard scoring drive that was finished by a 28 yard pass from (Jr) QB Ross Anderson to (Sr) WR Tyler Onstad. The Knights took their 6-0 lead into the half.
The second half began with the Knights capitalizing on three consecutive possessions. (Sr) FB Jacob Drechsel opened the scoring with a plunge from four yards out. Next up, (Sr) RB Caden Fernholz took the opening play of a drive 41 yards to the house. Anderson found Onstad for the PAT conversion. (Jr) RB Kaden Spindler finished the quarter with another four yard TD run putting the Knights up by a score, and what would seem a runaway game, of 26-0.
Kimball decided to make the final quarter interesting through the air as they traded quarterbacks putting in (So) gunslinger Drew Gustafson. It took the Cubs eight plays to travel 61 yards as (So) RBRiley Miller hammered in the visitors first score from a yard out. PAT was denied. The Cubs tried an onside kick recovered by Knights (Jr) John Barber. Following a three down and out series by the Knights the Cubs struck quickly again with 8:10 on the clock as Gustafson launched a 38 yard pass to (Sr) WR Del Guerrero. (Sr) RB Payton Hananran in the two point conversion closing the gap to a 26-14 lead. Once again Kimball attempted an onside kick, once again thwarted by Barber. WCAA struggled to maintain possession turning the ball over to the Cubs on a short field. Kimball took advantage of the opportunity as the combo of Gustafson and Guerrero hooked up for a second time on a six yard TD pass, (Jr) Michael Hoffman booted the PAT now closing the Knights lead to five. For the third time there was an onside kick and for the third time John Barber came up with the football. The Knight offense turned the ball over for a fourth time in the game on a center/quarterback exchange setting up another short field for the Cubs. When it mattered most the home team defense came up big pushing the Cubs backwards forcing a punt. From their own 19 yard line the Knights finished out the game by stringing several first downs together and eventually running out the clock. Final score to an exciting finish...26-21.
Offensively WCAA put together a very balanced game. Totaling 273 yards 134 of them came by way of the pass and 139 came by way of the run. The Knights posted 13 first downs with five being picked up by the pass and five from the run game. Kimball handed over three by way of penalty. Leaders for the Knights on the offensive side include Anderson throwing 9/19 for 134 yards a TD and a PAT. Onstad plucked five of those passes for 92 yards, a TD and the PAT. Fernholz and (Jr) RB Brady Sabolik led the Knight rushers with 56 and 52 yards respectively.
The defense allowed eight first downs and gave up 260 yards with 169 of them coming through the air. Leaders on the defensive side were Drechsel with 8 tackles, (Jr) Logan Paulson 7 tackles, Fernholz 5.5 tackles a pass defense and an interception, and (Sr) Cole Redepenning with 5.5 tackles and a pair of passes defended.
Logan Paulson earned Z-103.3 and Area Press 'Player of the Game' honors. Paulson set a tone in the first half on the defensive line to the point that Kimball simply stopped running at him for the entire second half. As solid as the defensive play was Paulson played at spectacular game on the offensive side at tackle. Congratulations Logan!
The 2-5 Knights will play their final regular season game Wednesday as they travel to Swanville and face off with the 6-1 USA Patriots. Kick off is scheduled for 7 pm.