Late score bites Wildcats
November 17, 2010
By Sebastian Moraga
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Not with less than two minutes to go and a hard-earned three-point lead still standing.
Not after giving Liberty all it could handle.
Not with the Patriots missing two late field goals and the Mount Si Wildcats putting on their best performance of the season.
“They played their A game. They brought it,” said Patriot star Chandler Jenkins, his white jersey streaked with blood.
But end it did, with Liberty’s Jenkins returning an Ian Ilgenfritz interception for a touchdown with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter to seal a 20-17 defeat of the Wildcats.
The extra point went wide, giving the boys in red a flicker of hope, but then, the team could not get into field-goal range on fourth down, the last Ilgenfritz pass bouncing off the receiver’s chest.
“I’m proud of my team,” Wildcat head coach Charlie Kinnune said. “They gave it everything they had.”
The Mount Si team that took the field Nov. 12 was not the same that Liberty ran over in September. The Wildcats swung from the start, determined to strike first. Halfway through the first quarter, Shelby Williams darted 73 yards to give Mount Si the lead.
Jenkins tied it up with a 20-yard touchdown run less than a minute later, and Jake Bainton gave Liberty the lead with 3:15 to go in the first on a 23-yard touchdown catch.
In the second half, the Wildcats repeated the urgency with which they had started the game, scoring on a field goal less than three minutes into the third quarter. The defense then stopped Liberty at its own 36 and on the next drive, Ilgenfritz dropped a 60-yard bomb to Trent Riley on second-and-eight to give the Wildcats the lead.
The three-point lead never looked insurmountable, but as the crowd got louder and Liberty started racking up false-start penalties, the folks in red began to believe. And when the defense stopped the charging Patriots at the Mount Si 18 with three and a half minutes to go, and the ensuing Patriot field goal went wide, the Wildcats’ sideline was one big, swaggering grin.
Then, the grin got defanged.
Starting at the 20-yard line, the Wildcats gained three yards, then lost one on second down. Then, on third-and-second at their own 22, Jenkins intercepted Ilgenfritz’s throw at the 28-yard line and ran it in for the score.
Kinnune said that on the Jenkins pick, the team had to throw the ball to get itself out of a tough situation.
“You don’t want to be in that situation,” he said. “But we got ourselves in that situation.”
Down by three after a wide extra-point attempt, the Wildcats lifted their bruised spirits off the ground and engineered one last drive.
They made it to their own 44-yard line, before a penalty drove them back to the 39. Then, on fourth-and-14, the last pass went incomplete and a cool dry night turned colder and wetter, with tears instead of raindrops cascading from the Wildcats’ faces.
“They’re a good team, and they got a lucky break there at the end,” fullback Zach Storm said after the game. “Everyone fought hard in our team. I can’t say anything but being with these guys for the last years have been the best years of my life.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.