NOBLE — Piedmont produced 24 first downs, gained 415 total yards and kept Noble’s high-octane offense at bay by dominating time of possession Friday night.
None of it was enough to win.
The Wildcats committed four turnovers, missed chances to put Noble away and squandered a fourth-quarter lead in a 33-27 loss to the Bears.
Baehler Buol hit Dallas Dow over the middle for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 2:13 to play to cap a wild comeback for the Bears. Piedmont fumbled the ensuing kickoff to seal its fate.
“Sometimes that happens and it was a mistake that cost us,” head coach Drew Gossen said. “That wasn’t the only one, there were a lot of opportunities we had.”
Buol completed 21 of 34 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns without an interception while leading his team back from an 8-point deficit with less than eight minutes to play.
The rally spoiled a signature performance from Piedmont, which got 195 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 24 carries from senior Landon White. White helped Piedmont’s offense control time of possession and keep Noble’s high-powered offense off the field while building a 20-13 halftime edge.
“The first half couldn’t have gone any smoother,” Gossen said.
Piedmont ran for 240 yards as a team despite facing a Noble defense that overloaded the line of scrimmage to take the run away.
The methodical style worked to perfection until late in the fourth quarter when critical mistakes cost the ‘Cats. Leading by eight and driving into Noble’s redzone to go ahead by two scores, a bad snap squirted past quarterback Noah Ellis, was picked up by Noble (3-0) and returned to midfield.
The Bears converted a fourth-and-goal from the 7-yardline on the ensuing drive when Buol hit Chance Felchin to pull Noble within two points, 27-25, after a missed two-point conversion with 7:31 to play.
PHS had another chance to close out the win on its next drive, but Ellis’ pass on fourth-and-nine from the Noble 27 fell incomplete with 2:42 to go. Buol hit Dow for the deciding score three plays later. Ellis was 9 of 18 for 175 yards and hit Koy Priddy for a 37-yard touchdown in fourth quarter.
The Wildcats threw an interception in the end zone and were stopped on downs at Noble’s 22-yardline in the second half. Piedmont also committed 10 penalties for 85 yards to go along with its other miscues.
“That was the difference,” Gossen said.
The Wildcats (1-2) play at Northwest Classen next week to open district play.
“Through three games, I now know what this team is about,” Gossen said. “I know what they’re going to be like and I know how hard they’re going to fight. We can go to bat with that.”