Bouncing back strong

Wildcats beat the Mustangs without their starting quarterback


Photo by Tenley Wright

The defense played lights out during the game, with five turnovers on the night.

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Sports Director

On Friday, September 4th, the fifth-ranked Millard West varsity football team took on their unranked rivals, the Millard North Mustangs. 

Both teams came out of week one losses to two high ranked teams, #4 ranked Elkhorn South and #2 ranked Millard South. Unfortunately, the Wildcats were going into the game without senior running back Zack Coleman due to a broken foot and senior quarterback Jacob Jones to a knee injury. A big brightspot to watchout for on the Wildcats was junior running back Nathan Pederson, who last week rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Millard North came off a tough loss to the Patriots 0-33 and looked to score their first points of the season.

On the first play of the game, senior cornerback Kaden Williams showed off speed as he took off for a strong opening return and got pushed out at the 34 yard line. To start off the first quarter, backup quarterback, senior Trystan Harms, started off with the first possession and the Mustangs defense held the Cats to their first three and out of the game, despite their amazing field position. Millard North answers with a conversion on a 4th and inches to keep their drive alive, but, after a few first downs and an incomplete pass on a 3rd and five by the Mustangs, the Wildcats regain possession. On a 2nd and 10 from the seven yard line, Harms handed the ball off to junior running back Chase Hultman, who shook tackles and went down the sideline for the team’s first score of the game. The Wildcats led 0-7 with 5:31 left in the first quarter. The Wildcat defense kept the same momentum and forced a fumble to give the Wildcats back the ball, recovered by senior ;linebacker James Conway at the Millard North 43 yard line, but after some good tackles behind the line of scrimmage, the Mustangs held the Wildcats to no positive yardage and the clock expired on the first quarter of play. Mustangs 0, Wildcats 7. 

To start off the second quarter, both teams’ trades failed drives ending in punts, with the Wildcat short kick hitting their own 42 yard line. The defense showed off a little more as a desperation deep throw ended in an interception by senior wide reciever Colton Anderws on a 3rd and 12 to give the Wildcats back the ball midway through the second quarter. Millard North came to play though. On another 3rd down, the Mustangs jumped a route and regained possession on a Harms throw to the sideline intended for Hultman. This did not faze this tough Wildcat defense as they step right up for the third straight intercepted pass of the game made by Andrews again to give the ball back to the Wildcats, as if these defenses were done making plays, the Wildcats turned over the ball once again after a successful catch turned into a fumble going the other way for Millard North, with less than two minutes left in the first half of play. On the very next play, Millard North quarterback kept the ball and ran it in for MIllard North’s first points of the season on an 18-yard run. The score was tied at seven as time expired in the first half. 

“We knew it was going to be a tough game and both sides of the ball did a great job from the opening play to the last one,” Andrews said. “We’ve been working all week so it was nice to come out here and show them what we can do.”

To start off the third quarter, Millard North on offense, the Wildcats forced another three and out after a sack on a 3rd and 1 as the Wildcat defense reminded the Mustangs of their presence. The Wildcats drove down the field midway through Mustang territory, but a failed 4th down ends in possession for North. A short Millard North offensive possession and inevitable punt led to a first play Pederson 60 yard touchdown to give the Wildcats the lead once again with less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. A short possession by each team ended out the third quarter. The Wildcats led by seven with 12 minutes left to play against these two rivals. 

“I can’t get those touchdowns without my linemen and everyone working together,” Pederson said. “Everyone needs to do their job, and that’s how we’ve been scoring our touchdowns and how we’ll continue to score our touchdowns.”

To start off the final quarter of the game, both teams start off with failed conversions on third down, but a Millard North fumble gave Millard West the ball at the Mustang 28 yard line. The turnover led to Pederson’s second first play touchdown of the night putting the Wildcats up by two scores early in the 4th quarter. Mustangs 7, Wildcats 21 with 8:46 left in the game. After some more punt-filled action, the clock ticked down to under two minutes left in the game. The Mustangs took their lost shot of scoring some points on the board, scoring a four yard touchdown run to make the score 14-21 and the Wildcats lead. 

“It is still early in the season, the goal is to be the best by the end of the season and that’s something we’re always going to be working towards,” coach Seth White said. “There’s room for improvement all across the board and on both sides of the ball.”

Even though Millard West was down many key players and coming off a tough loss, they found a way to bounce back and get their first win of the season. Next week, catch the Wildcats in the battle of Q street against Millard South, on Friday, September 11th at 7.