The undefeated Jasper Eagles traveled to Diamond with an 8-0 record, looking to go home with a perfect season. The Eagles did get their win, but only by the skin of their teeth, 34-27.
Diamond actually scored the touchdown that would have tied the game in the third quarter, but had it called back on a penalty as officials ruled the passer was beyond the line of scrimmage.
Diamond coach Jimmy Dushane said, "In the first half we had a total of 236 yards and they had 237. We came close, but the breaks just don't seem to fall our way. We lost three of our games this year by a total of 14 points. In each one of them we've had a touchdown called back."
The first quarter started out as a defensive show, as neither team could get to much traction on offense. Halfway through the first quarter the Eagles got the ball deep in their own territory and drove 78 yards for the first touchdown — a five-yard run by Payton Smith.
On the ensuing possession, Diamond moved the ball downfield, but the drive stalled on the 31-yard line following a missed field goal. Jasper took control of the ball and on its second play Jordan Rice cut around the outside and outran everyone for 58 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles led 14-0.
Things continued to compound for Diamond as it fumbled on the ensuing return and the Eagles recovered on Diamond's 26-yard line. Smith quickly scored again on a 20-yard run to make it 21-0.
The Wildcats (4-5) got the ball back with 1:02 left in the first quarter and quarterback Brodie Bien began to put the ball in the air. With no time left on the clock, Bien heaved a pass and Darren Russow snatched the ball out of the air in the end zone with one hand, scoring Diamond's first touchdown. The teams switched ends with a score of 21-7, Jasper.
In the second quarter the Wildcats ran 23 offensive plays, 15 of them were passes.
"We felt we could pass on them," said Dushane after the game.
Jasper scored early in the second quarter on a five-yard Smith run, pushing the led to 28-7. Diamond stayed in the air, but added a few twists. Bien threw a short pass to Jake Goade by the near sideline, and he immediately lateraled to Zach Renfro for a gain of 25 yards. Bien scored on the next play on a nine-yard run, cutting Jasper's led to 14 points (28-14).
Diamond executed an onside kick following the score and got the ball back on Jasper's 37-yard line with 2:02 left in the half. With time running out in the quarter, Diamond tried a second field goal, a 42-yarder, but missed. The half ended with Jasper leading 28-14.
Jasper struck on their first possession of the third quarter when quarterback Logan Johnston broke free and scored on a 45-yard run. Undeterred, Diamond took the kickoff, drove down the field 82 yards and scored on a 15-yard pass to Russow — cutting the Jasper lead to 13 points.
Diamond's defense stepped up and stopped the Eagles' offensive machine for the rest of the quarter. Diamond scored a second time in the quarter when Bien connected with Jordan Divine — only to have it called back on a penalty.
"Coach Gragg, made some adjustments during halftime to the defense that really made a difference during the second half. He really does a good job on that," said Dushane.
With the momentum swinging in their favor, Diamond went into the fourth quarter down by 13. Jasper chewed six minutes off the clock before giving the ball to Diamond.
The Wildcats pushed to the Eagles' seven-yard line, and ended up turning the ball over on downs with three minutes left. Diamond's defense would force Jasper to punt, and Russow set the offense up nicely with a 48-yard return. Four plays later, Renfro scored on a three-yard run and Kyle Williams' extra point was blocked.
With 1:04 left in the game the score was 34-27 in favor of the Eagles. Diamond attempted an onside kick but Jasper came up with the ball and subsequently ran the clock out.
The Wildcats will open district play on the road at 7 p.m. Thursday at Warsaw.