Wildcats fall to Ola 31-21 in home opener

by Riley Hicks

The Whitewater Wildcats welcomed in the Ola Mustangs for their first home game of the season Friday night. After scuffling against the Sandy Creek powerhouse week one, the Wildcats were looking to bounce back and gain some early momentum in their season. Even though the Ola Mustangs came out on top 31-21, the Wildcats showed that when they’re down, they are never out of the game until the final buzzer. 

Chris Mitchell tries to swat away a deep pass against Ola.
(Photos by Michael Clifton / www.kombatkamera.com)

The Mustangs used a fast-paced offense to move down the field and get on the board early. On their second possession, quarterback Hunter Kautz threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Kendric McDaniels, who made the over the shoulder catch to give his team a 7-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first quarter. 

The Mustangs struck again towards the end of the first quarter after starting the drive with great field position following a muffed punt. The series was led by running back Gyani Williams charging through the heart of the defense and capping off the possession with a 15-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the quarter. 

For the Wildcat offense, it took a few drives to finally get anything going and move the ball down the field. In their first four possessions, Whitewater went three-and-out each time and struggled to gain any positive yards. They finally got into gear with Maddox Mueller taking full control and keeping the ball in his hands to get the ball down inside the red zone. Mueller scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to put the Wildcats on the board midway through the second quarter. 

Just like Mueller did for the Wildcats, Kautz took command on the ensuing series. He converted a fourth down play and drew a personal foul to put Ola inside the Wildcats 10 yard line. The Wildcat defense tightened up and made a goal line stop, forcing a field goal to bring the halftime score to 17-7 in favor of the Mustangs. 

The Wildcat defense gangs up on a Mustang ballcarrier.

In the third quarter, the momentum switched entirely to Ola as they took full control of the game. On their first possession of the quarter, Kautz scored on a 4-yard quarterback sneak to extend the lead to 24-7, and the defense started to key on Mueller to keep Whitewater in check. The constant pressure forced an interception late in the third quarter, and the Mustangs put the game out of reach with a touchdown to start the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass to Parker Reagin to go up 31-7. 

Even with the game in hand, the Wildcats kept up the fight. They scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes, and their defense made some big stops and forced a fumble that was recovered by Chris Mitchell. Mueller threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Jones, and he followed that up with a two-point pass to Jones to bring the score to 31-15 with 4:01 left. After the fumble recovery by Mitchell, Mueller found Jones one more time on a 22-yard pass to bring the final score to 31-21. 

With the strong offensive finish, the Wildcats can build on that momentum this week when they host Northside Warner Robins. The past two weeks have been quite a test for Whitewater, but with each game the Wildcats are slowly finding their identity. When it comes time for region play in the coming weeks, Whitewater should be ready to compete.

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