By LaDonna Swedberg
A trip to Paxton proved to be a tough journey for the Wildcats Friday night as they encountered a quick and physical Tiger team.
The game began with a defensive battle with both teams going three and out but as the game progressed each team saw their offense find ways to score.
Paxton struck first when Garrett Schimonitz found Zach Morland for a 47-yard touchdown reception. The Tigers were unable to complete their two point conversion so with 4:23 left in the first quarter, Paxton was up, 6–0.
Wallace was quick to respond when Landon Swedberg returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to put six points on the scoreboard for the Wildcats, and just that quick, the score was 6–6.
Before the quarter came to an end the Tigers were able to put up six more points. Austin Wheeler found an opening for a 52-yard run which put Paxton on the 10-yard line. Schimonitz completed the drive taking the football the last 10 yards.
The score stayed close through the second quarter as both teams came up with some big defensive plays. The Wildcats were threatening to score deep in Paxton territory when they fumbled and the Tiger defense recovered. Three plays later, however, the Wallace defense came up with a big play of their own to put two points on the board.
Josh Grauerholz and Mark Jameson forced QB Schimonitz out of the back of the end zone for a safety bringing the score to 8–12. With a lot of momentum on the Wildcat side, Taylor Doell returned the free kick all the way to the Paxton 26-yard line. A penalty tacked on extra yardage and the ball was down to the 14-yard line.
Two plays later John Marquardt found Swedberg in the end zone for a touchdown reception. With the line opening up a hole, Swedberg was able to dive across the goal line for the PAT and Wallace experienced their first lead of the night leading 16–12.
The Tigers were not pleased with the look of the scoreboard and with a Tyler Schimonitz 70-yard kickoff return, they were able to go to the locker room leading 18–16.
The Wildcats struggled in the second half on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they were able to move the ball but not far enough to score points. Defensively, the problem was penalties and missed tackles.
The Tigers were able to score on their first possession of the half. The drive was a result of the combined running of Tyler Schimonitz and Zach Morland and Wildcat penalties. The Tiger defense then added two more points to their lead when they blocked a Wildcat punt for a safety.
Before the third quarter came to an end, Paxton was able to put up six more points. The Tigers used the ‘hook and ladder’ trick play to gain most of the yardage for the drive and then Tyler Schimonitz completed it with a one yard run.
Paxton began the fourth quarter with a 32–16 lead and they were looking to add more. However, the Tigers and the Wildcats both had to punt on their opening possessions of the quarter. The Tigers then put together a successful drive and with 7:50 left in the game they increased their lead 38–16.
The Wildcats knew they would have to score quickly to stay in the game so they went with the pass. The first play following the Paxton kickoff, Marquardt once again connected with Swedberg for a 65-yard touchdown reception. The PAT failed so with just over seven minutes left to play the Wildcats were within 10 points of the Tigers–but that would be short lived.
Following the kickoff, the Tigers started their drive on their 15-yard line. Tyler Schimonitz was able to break a couple of tackles and go 65 yards for another quick touchdown. With less than a minute ticking off the clock, three touchdowns had been scored so it was fitting that the game ended with a battle of the defenses.
Paxton came away with a 44–22 victory.
Leading the Wildcats in defense was Tanner McCoy with 12 unassisted tackles and three assisted. Taylor Doell, John Marquardt and Landon Swedberg each had eight tackles apiece and Eric Koop had seven tackles with six assists.
Offensively, Wallace was led by Landon Swedberg with 108 yards rushing on 14 carries and he caught two passes for touchdowns. Taylor Doell carried the ball four times for 34 yards. John Marquardt was four for nine passing for a total of 82 yards.
The Wildcats will have this week off so their next game will be Sept. 16 in Dunning against Sandhills/Thedford with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.