By Greg Perkins
The Wildcats of Joseph City earned a split in their past two games, dropping a home game to Glendale Prep Academy on Friday, Oct.18, then bouncing back with a big win over Fredonia last Saturday.
That victory over Fredonia’s Lynx gave the Wildcats enough power points to obtain the 12th and final spot in the Division VI state tournament, which gets underway on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The home game against the Griffins from Glendale Academy was a back and forth affair which wasn’t decided until the final seconds of the game when the Griffins broke a 26-all tie with a 12-yard touchdown run with just nine seconds left.
Joseph City started the scoring at the 8:40 mark of the first period on a five-yard run by Cody Davis. Wyatt Johnson’s two-point pass to Chance Bray made the lead 8-0. Glendale made the score 8-6 with a 37-yard touchdown run at the 2:07 mark of the quarter. The Wildcats scored the final points of the opening period on the ensuing kickoff, which was returned 65 yards by Johnson, giving Joseph City a 14-6 going into the second quarter.
Glendale scored first in the second stanza on a 10-yards scoring pass, trimming the lead to 14-12. Once again it appeared the Wildcats had regained the momentum when Davis returned the kickoff 90 yards for an apparent score. However, a penalty on the Cats wiped out the score. Glendale took advantage of the break and gained the lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 7:50 left in the third quarter. The Griffins scored again with 3:32 left in the period on a five-yard run, making the lead 26-14.
Joseph City rallied and got back into the game with 2:45 left in the third on a 44-yard run by Bray, trimming the lead to 26-20. The Cats got the ball back and scored early in the fourth on a 23-yard run by Davis, tying the game at 26-26 after the two-point conversion attempt failed. The remainder of the fourth period went scoreless until Glendale broke the tie with a score at the end of the game.
Bray completed two of three passes for 31 yards and Johnson connected on five of 11 passes for 30 yards.
Johnson had two catches for 31 yards. Davis made two grabs for 30 yards. Bray had two receptions for nine yards.
Davis piled up 155 yards on the ground on 22 attempts. Bray also carried 22 times, gaining 143 yards. Johnson rushed 17 times for 20 yards.
Saturday’s win at Fredonia saw the Wildcats build a 30-6 halftime cushion, then cruise to a 46-20 win.
Davis opened the scoring on a 63-yard run at the 7:56 mark of the first period. Johnson ran in the conversion and the Cats led 8-0. Fredonia scored three minutes later on a five-yard run, but missed the conversion try, leaving the visitors on top 8-6. Bray then scored on runs of 44 yards and one yard out, pushing the lead to 22-6. Johnson scored just before the half ended on a 15-yard run and Davis’ two-point run gave Joseph City the 30-6 advantage.
Both teams scored twice in the fourth, with the Wildcats getting long touchdown runs by Davis from 80 yards away and Bray from 71 yards out to seal the scoring with Joseph City earning the 46-20 win and advancing to the state tournament.
Bray had a big afternoon on the ground, gaining 204 yards on 18 rushes. Davis piled up 186 yards on 12 tries. Johnson gained 56 yards on 14 carries.
Bray also stood out on defense with 27 tackles, including 21 solo stops.
As the 12th seed the Wildcats will face a familiar foe when they take on fifth seeded Mogollon on Saturday evening, Oct. 26, in Heber. In their previous meeting this year, the Mustangs prevailed 34-6. If the Cats want to prolong their season, they will need to find a way to reverse that outcome.
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By Greg Perkins