By Evan Grice
In district play, sometimes you have to contend with more than just your opponent.
With an earlier start time, combined with a stiff wind throughout the contest, even that wasn’t enough to stop the Piedmont Wildcats from breaking open a 14-14 halftime deadlock and defeat Cache 20-14 Friday night at Stout Field.
Blakely Liebmann had the only touchdown of the second half, when he scampered in for a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:24 left in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-14 game.
“I’m proud of two things tonight from this game,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said. “For one, I’m proud of the adjustments our coaches made at halftime with the kids. Secondly, I’m proud of the kids for stepping up and accepting the challenge we placed in front of them.”
“District is always difficult no matter who you play. We tried to tell the kids just to stick to the game plan we had in front of us and we overcame what we needed to.”
While the result was sweet for Wildcat fans and players alike, it was anything but certain until late on in the fourth quarter.
With Cache driving down the field and facing a 4th and 10 situation from the Piedmont 44-yard line with less than two minutes to go and PHS up 20-14, Bulldogs quarterback Judah Sweat found wide receiver Marceles Dowell for a reception inside the Wildcats five-yard line.
However, Dowell was called for offensive pass interference on the play, which negated the catch and moved the Bulldogs back to their own 41-yard line, where the Wildcats defense shut the door with Sweat’s pass being batted down on the ensuing play, sealing the victory.
Piedmont looked like it was going to get off to a fast start in the first quarter, when Steffen Funkhouser took the opening kickoff down to the Cache 34-yard line.
However, even more shocking than the fact the Wildcats didn’t penetrate the 10-yard line in seven plays of offense, was the fact that Butch Hampton’s 28-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Cache on 4th and 8 from the Bulldogs 18-yard line.
But, Piedmont’s patience would be rewarded with less than two minutes to go in the first, when Darrius Burris put the Wildcats up 7-0 with an eight-yard touchdown run.
Cache though responded with 4:05 left in the second quarter, when Sweat connected with Dowell for a 30-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 7-7.
Burris would come to the rescue of the Wildcats once again just before halftime with his second touchdown of the evening, this one from three yards out to make it 14-7 with 2:13 remaining.
Much to the dismay though of Piedmont, the Sweat and Dowell connection would meet up again, this time with a 28-yard touchdown pass and catch to tie the game with 43 seconds left in the first half.
On the night, Piedmont carried the ball 39 times as a team for a total of 184 yards. Burris was the leading rusher with 149 yards.
Richert finished with 92 yards passing, completing half of his passes on the night at 10-for-20, with Easton Fenton the leading receiver on the night with six passes for a total of 67 yards.
Cache finished with a total amount of 228 yards as a team with the Bulldogs only managing 68 yards of total offense in the second half.
Piedmont will look to make it two straight next Friday night Oct. 11 as the Wildcats travel to Elk City for a district matchup, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.