The Sarcoxie Bears controlled the ball and the game clock, but still came up short, losing to the Diamond Wildcats 21-20 in high school football action Friday night.
"They kept us from running our offense, they just chew up the clock, that's their game," Diamond head coach Jimmy DuShane said "We had 42 plays on offense tonight, a normal game we'll have 80 to 90."
Diamond received the opening kickoff, picked up 36 yards on the first two plays and fumbled on their third play.
Sarcoxie started on their own 31-yard line and clawed down the field on short yardage runs, one right after another. The Bears played a classic, "three yards and a cloud of dust" running offense. They deploy multiple men in the backfield and they pull all their receivers in as tight ends or slots. If it was a running play they utilized it, up the middle, around the outside, reverse, trap, pitch and mixed in a lot of additional misdirection in the backfield.
The Bears made it to the Sarcoxie 28-yard line and fumbled. Diamond's Kyle Williams picked up the ball and took off on a 72-yard fumble return for the first score of the night. Williams followed it up with an extra point, Diamond led 7-0 at the 4:51 mark in the first quarter.
Diamond kicked off, and the Bears started grinding down field. When the two teams switched ends to start the second quarter, Diamond was leading, but had only run three offensive plays in the first quarter.
Sarcoxie scored next on a 13-yard run by Milo McDonald with 11:40 left in the second quarter. The PAT failed, bouncing off the back of one of the Bears, as Diamond led 7-6. The Wildcats took the ball back and in less than two minutes scored on a 48-yard catch-and-run by Carter Prewitt.
The Bears scored again with 1:34 left in the half. Running back Franklin Arreaga found a crease in the Wildcats line and worked his way into the end zone on a 23-yard run. Sarcoxie attempted a two-point conversion and failed. The teams went into the halftime locker room with Diamond leading, 14-12.
Sarcoxie controlled the ball for all but nine plays in third quarter. Arreaga found the end zone again on a 10-yard run with 5:54 left in the quarter, putting the Bears ahead for the first time of the game, 20-14. Arreaga also crossed the goal line for a two-point conversion.
Late in the fourth quarter, Diamond needed a touchdown to tie and time was running out. Diamond was on the Sarcoxie 16-yard line when Wildcat quarterback Evan Moreland connected with Tanner Paradeis, for a 12-yard pass. Paradeis was immediately swarmed by a host of Bears, but fought them off for four yards to make it to the goal line. Williams split the uprights for the extra point and the Wildcats took the lead back, 21-20, with 1:05 left in the game, 21-20.
With all the time Sarcoxie spent on offense, the Wildcats defense picked up some huge numbers. Williams not only picked up a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown, he was credited with 25 tackles for the night. Paradeis, who had his own touchdown, compiled 17 tackles.
The Bears had 259 yards rushing and attempted two passes. The first pass was tipped by a Wildcats defender and the second was intercepted by Prewitt to end the game. With these two passes added to their total, Sarcoxie has now thrown the ball 13 times this season.
Diamond had improved play balance, picking up 226 yards running and 172 passing yards.
"We worked real hard, they believed … that's what makes this fun," DuShane said with a huge smile after the end of the game.
Diamond will travel next week to Miller to face the unbeaten 6-0 Cardinals. Sarcoxie will be at home, taking on another undefeated team, the Lockwood Tigers (6-0).