The Kaplan Pirates at 4-0 in District 9-3A visiting Erath Bobcats at 3-1 was touted as a battle for District 9-3A supremacy.
However, the hype surrounding the matchup turned out to be a bit melodramatic as Kaplan gained an early lead, controlled much of the game and marched to a 21-6 victory over Erath.
Adding to the melodrama was the fact that if you left at halftime, you did not miss much action as the majority of the offensive production occurred in the first half, and all scoring ceased after the second quarter. The second half was defensive stalemate.
First half scoring commenced with a 1-yard touchdown run from Kaplan quarterback Devontae Davis with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter capping a 7-play, 72-yard drive.
“I don’t know how he does it,” Kaplan coach Stephen Lotief said. “He’s an athlete.”
The turning point in the game occurred on the ensuing possession. Trailing by 7 and facing a fourth down, Erath was forced to punt from its own 29-yard line into substantial gusting winds. The punt was struck and actually traveled backwards and bounded to the Erath 8 where it was scooped up by Kaplan’s A.J. Perro who ran it into the end zone extending Kaplan’s lead to 14-0 after the successful extra point attempt.
“The wind was blowing really hard and that punt down there killed us,” Erath coach Doug Dotson said. “You can’t have plays like that in a big ball game.”
Facing an early deficit posed a challenge for an Erath offense which features its ground attack and depends on ball control and field position to win games.
“We never could get the field. It seemed like the whole night we were way back,” Dotson said. “When you can’t get the field and you spend the whole night in the minus territory, it takes a toll on you.”
Undaunted, Erath quarterback Ty Bares who had 17 carries for 82 yards in the game did rally his team and punched in a touchdown from five yards out to cut Kaplan’s lead to 14-6 with 6:33 remaining in the first half.
However, Davis who finished with 14 carries for 50 yards began the game’s scoring would also cap it off. His second touchdown run of the game, this one from two yards out with 1:29 left in the second quarter, would provide enough cushion for the Pirate’s to outlast the Bobcats.
“We stepped up and made the plays tonight and held on for dear life. That is our motto,” Lotief added.
Kaplan will take a perfect 5-0 district record into the regular season’s final game next week against North Vermilion where it will look to clinch the outright District 9-3A title.