Late miscues cost Cats in 7-6 homecoming defeat
The De Soto Wildcats suffered a homecoming heartbreaker Friday in De Soto against Paola, 7-6.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the contest is how well Tom Byers’ squad played.
The defense played inspired throughout as it limited a tough Paola team to one score in the first quarter.
“We’re progressing,” Byers said. “It’s a staple here at De Soto that we want to play great defense. We have our moments here and there, but all we ask is to give us a chance to win a football game. We only gave up one big run tonight, so that’s all we ask.”
Paola’s touchdown, which came with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter, was the product of that one big run. Paola’s speedy running back Tyler Henness took a handoff from scrimmage 61 yards to the end zone to put the Panthers in front.
Paola looked poised to score again at the end of the first half, but a stalled drive on the 1-yard line after some tough defensive line play for De Soto kept the score at one possession.
“I thought it was great,” Byers said. “That’s what we ask for, just for the kids to make a play. That stop was great because they had the wind and the momentum, which is always a threat.”
In the second half the Wildcats began to get the ball rolling offensively. Logan Clark, Dylan Burford, Jeff Bowen and Daniel Peterson combined to produce extended drives that put the Wildcats in scoring position.
With just more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Clark punched in De Soto’s lone touchdown from the 1-yard line, but the extra point was missed to keep the Paola lead at one.
In the end, De Soto had a chance to win the game when the Wildcats drove the ball down to the 6-yard line with two minutes remaining. Trying to be careful and not turn the ball over, Byers said he wanted to call cautious plays, but ones that provided them with a chance to punch the ball into the end zone. On second down, the snap was fumbled but quickly recovered by De Soto and the drive continued.
“We had a little miscue and that comes back to me,” Byers said. “That play put a damper on our rhythm. It got us down to third down, and we wanted to be halfway safe, but also have a shot at the end zone.”
On third down, Byers called for a pass but the Wildcats were unable to punch the ball in the end zone. On the following play, freshman Josh Pasley pushed his go-ahead field goal to the left and Paola was able to run out the clock on the ensuing possession.
“Josh is a great kid,” Byers said. “I have all the confidence in the world for him. He’s a great high school kicker, and he will be a great kicker for the next four years at De Soto High School. There is no blame on that man whatsoever. There were so many things we could have done to avoid putting that pressure on him. It’s a total team game.”
De Soto moves to 1-4 on the season with the loss. The Wildcats will play Friday at Ottawa.