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Boomers halt Wildcats comeback in district opener

Evan Grice/Gazette
Piedmont defensive players Braden Beeby (62) and Jacob Bakewell (28) close in for a tackle on Woodward quarterback Kale Hixon Friday night at Boomer Stadium in Woodward.

By Evan Grice

Sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

While the Piedmont Wildcats weren’t able to evade the rainfall Friday night at Boomer Stadium in Woodward, they almost escaped with a victory over the Boomers.

Down 32-7 in the fourth quarter, PHS sprung to life scoring 20 unanswered points to cut the deficit to 32-27.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Wildcats fell to 1-3 on the year and 0-1 in district play, falling by five points.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys for how they fought back,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said about his teams comeback. “Obviously though, we made some mistakes early that got us into a hole. We just couldn’t get out of it. We’ve got to remove those little mistakes if we’re going to win next week, we need a district win. Our defense, special teams and offense played well, but those mistakes are what got us.”

Just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter, it was the Boomers turn to make a mistake on offense.

A fumbled snap by WHS quarterback Kale Hixon was immediately scooped up by TJ Abraham, who raced the other way 56-yards for the touchdown, giving the Wildcats some life at 32-14.

After a successful defensive stand by the PHS defense on the Boomers next possession, the offense went to work and put together an eight-play, 44-yard drive which culminated with Josh Hampton plunging in from one yard out for the touchdown.

However, the Wildcats chose to go for the two-point conversion on the point after attempt, which was stuffed by the Boomers defense, making it a 32-20 game with just less than eight minutes to play.

More than five minutes of game time would pass before the Wildcats struck again, but it was in a big way.

Quarterback Lucas Richert found Steffen Funkhouser deep down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown pass, putting Piedmont well within striking distance at 32-27 with 2:11 remaining in regulation.

But, Woodward kept its cool and recovered the ensuing onside kick, which was promptly met with a first down on the next possession, icing the victory for the Boomers.

For all the Wildcats did right in the second and fourth quarters, they did the exact opposite in the first and third.

Three touchdowns for the Boomers, combined with three interceptions for Richert, along with a Wildcat fumble, compounded to put Piedmont in a 21-0 hole after just one quarter of play.

Hixon just needed 50 seconds of the first to find Kade Marlatt for a 51-yard touchdown pass, before these two found each other again at the 2:41 mark, this time from 27-yards out to make it 14-0.

“That kid (Hixon) is a stud,” Church said about the Boomers senior quarterback. “It took us a while to settle in, which against a guy like that it’s expected. But, once we got comfortable he got flustered a little and I was proud of the way we got to the ball.”

Following the Wildcats fourth turnover of the game, Woodward struck gold again, with Kyler Ferguson finding a hole through the middle and running 55-yards for the touchdown thanks in part to the double-wing formation, which caused mass confusion on the defense.

Piedmont though responded in the second quarter, when Richert found Funkhouser for a nine-yard touchdown pass to put the score at 20-7 with 9:43 left in the half.

Micah Kee though, made sure the Bombers stayed at a comfortable lead, as he punched it in from one-yard out with less than six minutes to go before halftime.

Woodward totaled 424 yards of offense on the night, with Hixon throwing for 174 yards with two touchdowns.

Richert finished 14-of-35 passing for 237 yards to go with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Funkhouser was the leading receiver on the night with 11 catches for a total of 204 yards.

Piedmont totaled 340 yards of total offense with 103 coming on the ground. Darrius Burris was the leading rusher for the Wildcats with 27 carries for 95 yards.

The Wildcats will return to Stout Field Friday night for a matchup against the Cache Bulldogs, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

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