Heartbreaker at home

Image: Bobcats vs Mustangs

Bobcats vs Mustangs (Cody Gochnour)

Bobcats drop tough battle to end regular season

Emotions ran high Thursday night as Cache Valley rivals Mountain Crest and Sky View met on the gridiron in Smithfield for each team’s final regular season football game of 2009.

The game remained close through the first half, but Bobcat mistakes and a powerful Mustang offense allowed Mountain Crest to pull away in the second half, and the Mustangs vacated the field as the victors, defeating the Bobcats 38-17. The 4A top-ranked Mustangs took advantage of multiple Sky View penalties and turnovers to put points on the scoreboard.

After a Mustang kickoff to start the game, confident Sky View quarterback Kyler Carlsen led his team 72 yards down the field to take an early lead just minutes into the game, 7-0. After completing his first four passes, connecting with wide receiver Jordan Hill three times and wide receiver Tanner Hunt once, Carlsen broke through the line on third down and bolted 37 yards to the end zone to put the first points on the board.

The Mustangs responded quickly, though, putting together a 9-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard pass from Mustang quarterback Alex Kuresa to wide receiver Tyler Weese. Sky View big man Jordan Nielsen broke through the line to block the extra point, and the Bobcats maintained a narrow lead, 7-6.

Sky View’s ensuing drive stopped at the Mountain Crest 6 yard line. Bobcat kicker Brock Warren drilled a chip shot field goal to extend Sky View’s lead, 10-6. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they wouldn’t score again until the final minutes of the game.

“You know, it all came down to things that hurt us in the first half: our execution,” said Sky View Head Coach Craig Anhder. “We had a few things take place that really hurt us,” he said.

“We’ve got to execute a full game.”

Sky View defensive end Colby Villanueva agreed. “We had to come out and play with more intensity, more heart than we were putting out there,” he said.

The Mustangs took their first lead of the game, 14-10, after Kuresa connected with Alex Knowles on a touchdown pass, followed by a reception for the 2-point conversion.

After being forced to punt on their next series, the Bobcat defense tightened up, regaining possession after Dom Gero picked off Mountain Crest’s Kuresa at the Bobcat 28-yard line. Sky View drove the ball down to the Mustang 23, but the drive stalled there. Mountain Crest took over on downs after the Bobcats failed to convert on fourth-and-ten.

“We got in the red zone a lot,” said Sky View’s Carlsen. “We just couldn’t finish, we couldn’t get in the end zone, so we kind of killed ourselves there.”

Both offenses struggled for the next few series until Sky View drove the ball to the Mustang 12-yard line. Sky View’s attempted field goal went right, and Mountain Crest took possession at their own 20-yard line.

On the next play, Kuresa hit Knowles in stride, this time for an 80-yard scamper to put 6 more points on the board with 1:26 left in the first half. The Mustangs faked the extra point and converted another 2-point conversion on a Kuresa pass to Knowles. Their lead increased to 12.

With seconds left in the first half, Carlsen injured his ankle when a Mountain Crest defender came down on it.

“[Carlsen’s injury] affected the way we were able to approach the second half,” said Anhder. “But I think it’ll be okay. He came out [in the second half] and had a gutsy performance and didn’t give up.”

“It was a lot better playing on it than I thought it was going to be,” said Carlsen.

Sky View’s defense began the second half strong, stalling the Mustang offense at their own 46-yard line. But a wild chain of events followed.

Mountain Crest lined up to punt, and when their punter, Kuresa, dropped the ball on the snap, it looked as if Sky View would gain possession with great field position. However, somehow Kuresa made his way through the Bobcat surge, and ran the ball down to the Sky View 9-yard line.

But when Sky View’s Zach McKinley recovered a Mountain Crest fumble on the next play, the Bobcats hoped to take advantage by putting a drive together. Unfortunately, the next play a Sky View pass found its way into Mountain Crest hands, and Mustang Mallin Brough took the interception into the end zone. After the 2-point conversion failed, Mountain Crest held a comfortable 18-point lead.

The Mustangs scored again at the beginning of the fourth quarter on another Alex Knowles reception from Kuresa to take a 35-10 lead. Minutes later they added a field goal by kicker Justin Call to finish their scoring for the night with 38 points.

A resilient Bobcat team never gave up, scoring another touchdown with 3:08 left in the contest when Carlsen connected with Blake McKinley on a 5-yard pass. Warren added the extra point to put the Bobcats at 17.

“We had great drives tonight,” said Carlsen. “We just gotta get in the end zone.”

Sky View enters the playoffs next week.

“It’s a brand new season,” said Anhder. “It’s day one tomorrow, and we’ve worked hard to put ourselves in this situation. We’ve got to put this behind us and move forward in our brand new season.”

Sky View (6-4) travels to face the Region 8 champion Springville Red Devils (8-1) on the road next week for the first round of the playoffs.

Teams 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Mt. Crest 14 8 6 10 38
Sky View 10 0 0 7 17