ABILENE, TX — An exciting first half of spectacular offense led to dominant defensive play in the second. The ‘Cats come back from down 15 points in the 4th quarter but ultimately fall in overtime.
The San Angelo Central Bobcats (1-1) looked to extend their winning streak to two games this week, Sept 9, as they traveled to Abilene to battle the Abilene Cooper Cougars (0-2) at Shotwell Stadium at 7 pm. The Bobcats fought valiantly in a back-and-forth brawl all game, but too many penalities hindered the offense too much to overcome an explosive Abilene Cooper football team. The Bobcats lost an overtime heartbreaker, 41-38.
The Bobcats received the first kickoff, and WR Cedric Fuentes took the ball 73 yards from his goal line to Cooper’s 27-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Hill led the offense onto the field, looking to gain an early advantage. Hill connected on an 11-yard pass to WR Jacob English to put the ball inside the 15-yard line, but the ‘Cats pushed no further. Instead, they settled for a field goal and struck first, 3-0.
The ‘Cats’ defensive unit took to the field encouraged by the early advantage. After just two plays, S Austin Johnson snagged a deflected pass for his first interception of the night. Not satisfied with just an interception; however, Johnson followed a convoy of Bobcats’ defenders to the end zone for a defensive touchdown. San Angelo Central extended their lead, 10-0.
The Cooper Cougars had more success on their next possession. Beginning the drive at the Abilene 30-yard line, the Cougars moved the ball methodically down the field gaining yards on a healthy mixture of plays through the air and on the ground. The Bobcats held the Cougars to a 4th and goal to go at the 6-yard line, but a well-timed fake field goal attempt put the Cougars in the endzone for 6. After the extra point, the Bobcats led by three, 10-7.
Now on offense at the San Angelo Central 25-yard line, Hill connected with WR Jaedyn Gipson for his first catch of the night for 9-yards. Hill then found a lane up the sideline and carried it for 23 yards into Cougar territory. However, a series of penalties from both teams negated a 24-yard touchdown pass from Hill to English. Ultimately, a failed 4th down attempt gave the ball back to the Cougars at the Abilene 29-yard line.
Another long drive, primarily through the air, pushed the Bobcats against the wall of their own end zone early in the 2nd quarter. Cooper’s offense continued to churn efficiently and chipped their way a bit at a time to the San Angelo Central 10-yard line. QB Chris Warren sprinted the final 10 yards to the end zone to give the Cougars the lead, 14-10.
The ‘Cats avoided disaster on their next drive. After coughing the ball up at the 34-yard line, OL Eric Martinez saved the ‘Cats by diving on the loose ball. This recovery led to a nice catch-and-run by WR Tyler Walker for 27 yards to the Abilene Cooper 31-yard line. Hard running from Tyree Brawley and Tyler Hill pushed the ball inside the 20-yard line, but the drive stalled at the 15-yard line. K Chase Miller kicked his second field goal of the night, and the Bobcats trailed by one point, 14-13.
Big plays sunk the ‘Cats on defense just before halftime. On two separate occasions, the Bobcats forced the Cougars into a 3rd down and long. First, Cougar QB Warren carried the ball for 14-yards to mid-field to convert for a first. Then at the San Angelo Central 41-yard line, Cougar RB Tavaris Whitfield sprinted to the edge and then 41-yards down the field for a touchdown. Abilene Cooper extended their lead, 21-13.
With 1:05 left in the first half, the Bobcats had a final opportunity to score. Hill threw a bomb to Fuentes streaking down the field. He caught the ball in stride and carried it 57 yards down the field to Abilene Cooper’s 15-yard line. The Cooper defense stonewalled the Bobcats on three straight plays and forced another field goal attempt. However, offsides on Cooper allowed Head Coach Kevin Crane to go for the first down at the 4-yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Cooper gave the ‘Cats a first down on the next play, and Tyler Hill capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The Bobcats trailed by one with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, 21-20.
Thirty seconds proved enough time for the Cougars to score one more touchdown before the half. Abilene Cooper returned the kickoff to the Cougars’ 30-yard line, after which a run by Whitfield supposedly ended the half. However, spectacular running from Whitfield left several Bobcats in the dust as he ran to one sideline and reversed the field to the other before scoring a 70-yard touchdown. The Bobcats headed to the locker room down eight points at the half, 28-20.
The Bobcats came out strong on defense in the second half. Forcing three straight negative plays, including a sack on 3rd down, the ‘Cats forced a punt. The offense took over at the San Angelo Central 38-yard line and struggled to move the ball. Faced with a 3rd and 6 yards to go, Hill lost the ball on a hard hit by the Cougars. Abilene Cooper jumped on the ball and forced the turnover. Three plays later, Abilene Cooper found the end zone to increase their lead, 35-20.
Down by 15 points, the Bobcats’ offense needed to score to get back into the game. They had initial success moving the ball through the air. First, a 20-yard pass to Keevon Rice and then a 12-yard pass to Carmelo Amigleo showed promise. However, three straight incompletions subsequently left the ‘Cats stranded at midfield, faced with a 4th down and long. Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Bobcats punted the ball away for a touchback.
San Angelo Central’s defense continued to play hard in the second half. After forcing a three-and-out, the ‘Cats had 12 men on the field during the punt. The penalty gave Abilene Cooper a fresh set of downs. However, the Bobcats continued to work and forced another 4th down after an additional sack. The remainder of the 3rd quarter went back and forth as both teams traded two more punts.
Tyler Hill broke free and carried the ball 23 yards as time expired in the 3rd. At the start of the 4th quarter, the ‘Cats had the ball on offense inside the five at the Cougars’ 3-yard line. However, penalties canceled out another easy touchdown, and instead, the Bobcats had a field goal blocked at the 25-yard line.
After another punt by Abilene Cooper, the Bobcats put the last drive behind them and drove more than 70 yards for a touchdown. In a 10+ play drive, Hill connected with five different receivers as the ‘Cats pushed closer and closer to the goal. WR Jacob English had three catches on the drive, including the 4-yard touchdown catch to score. The Bobcats converted the 2-point play to narrow Cooper’s lead back to seven, 35-28.
Abilene Cooper's offense played as slow as possible with less than five minutes to go in the game. With each play they ran, more and more time bled from the clock. However, Central’s defense held fast and forced a punt. On 4th down, three different Bobcats burst through the offensive line and smothered the punter as he tried to get the ball away. S Austin Johnson picked up the blocked punt and waltzed into the endzone, and the ‘Cats tied the game, 35-35.
1:33 remained in the 4th quarter, and the Bobcats needed one more stop to give their offense a chance to win the game. The ‘Cats’ defense delivered by stopping the explosive Cougar offense in its tracks on three straight plays and the ‘Cats forced the punt. The offense did not manage to move the ball with such little time left, and the game went to overtime, tied at 35 each.
Overtime rules state that both teams get the ball at the 25-yard line with the opportunity to score. If one team scores more points than the other during the exchange, that team wins the game. The game continues if no one scores or if both teams score the same.
The Bobcats took the field first. After converting a 4th and 11 to Tyler Walker, the offense stalled. Inside the 10-yard line, the ‘Cats failed to punch it in but settled for three points. San Angelo Central took the lead, 38-35.
The Bobcats held the Cougars to one first down before locking up the offense. Faced with a 3rd and long at the 14-yard line, the ‘Cats defensive line brought the heat against Cooper QB Warren and flushed him out of the pocket. Just before the linebackers arrived to make the sack, Warren managed to get the ball away. A leaping catch by a Cooper receiver sunk an incredible comeback by the Bobcats and an amazing night of football. The ‘Cats fell, 41-38
The San Angelo Central Bobcats host the Belton Tigers at San Angelo Stadium next week, Sept 16, at 7 pm.